Abuja airport closure forces investment forum postponement

Stanley Opara with
agency report

The Nigeria International Trade and Investment Conference has been postponed for three months due to the planned temporary closure of the Abuja international airport, the organisers said on Friday.

The trade conference is meant to drum up badly-needed investment in the country, especially with the current economic recession.

The delay is the first sign that government and business activities will be impacted by the six-week closure of the Abuja airport for runway repairs just as the country grapples with recession, Reuters reported on Friday.

The airport will close from March 8 and the government had hoped foreign airlines would use the smaller Kaduna airport, about 160 kilometres to the north.

So far, however, most international airlines, including British Airways, Lufthansa and South African Airways, have refused to fly to Kaduna, partly due to security concerns.

Ethiopian Airlines, which confirmed on Friday that it would fly to Kaduna during the Abuja airport closure, is so far the only foreign airline to say it will use the alternative airport.

The British Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to Kaduna State. Underlining the security risks in the region, two Germans were kidnapped on the main Abuja-Kaduna road earlier in the week.

The government imposed a 24-hour curfew on parts of Kaduna State after clashes between herdsmen and villagers killed at least 14 in the region.

Organisers of the investment conference said in a statement that the event had been pushed back from late March to June 13 to 15 due to the airport closure.

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