March 21 - Huge potential, huge challenges. As one of the 'MINTs' - the new kids on the economic block - Nigeria is trying to map a path for the future whilst confronting insurgency, corruption and other major issues. Hayley Platt reports.
It's a country of big extremes. Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer - with rich states in the south-east. But contrast that with the massive inequality and poverty found in the north. Now it wants to try and map out a path for its financial future. And has hosted a National Conference in the capital Abuja. Hubert Danso, from Africa Investors Group says Nigeria has plenty of potential. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HUBERT DANSO, VICE CHAIRMAN, AFRICA INVESTORS GROUP, SAYING: "I think Nigeria is at the forefront at least in the minds of the global investment community. We are seeing now where the Nigerian economy in many respects is hot on the tails and in some people's minds, ahead of the viability, the future viability of Nigeria versus South Africa." Some see Nigeria - along with the other so-called MINT nations of Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey - as an up and coming economic powerhouse. Along with oil and agriculture, it also has one of the most vibrant urban music scenes on the continent, producing some of the most bankable artists. And a growing fashion industry. Although some feel they're not sharing in the spoils - and see the conference as doing little to change that. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEJI OREYEMI, LAGOS RESIDENT, SAYING: "If it's done rightly, it's a nice idea but right now we don't really feel this government is sincere enough, number one, the way they got members of the confab... old men... no youth." Insurgency and corruption are rife. There are almost daily attacks by militants in the north. Suspected to be from Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists. It wants to govern northern Nigeria according to Islamic law. Richard Jeffrey of Cazenove Capital Management says investors are wise to tread carefully when entering new and unfamiliar territory. SOUNDBITE: Richard Jeffrey, Cazenove Capital Management, saying (English): "There are all sorts of nasty things that can happen in these markets. Some of these markets are quite corrupt for instance, some of the political regimes are not very safe and I think people have to have a very very high degree of awareness of what is going on in the individual economy, political system even, before you get to the investment possibilities." Its fans point to this fact: Nigeria returned growth last year of six per cent. Outperforming Europe and even the US by a huge margin.