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Nigerian business summit in Manitoba focuses on food, energy

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Nigerian workers gather at HD Petroleum to learn ways to turn waste oil into diesel fuel. Africa has the fastest economic growth in the world.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Nigerian workers gather at HD Petroleum to learn ways to turn waste oil into diesel fuel. Africa has the fastest economic growth in the world. Photo Store

A continent that’s been labelled a basket case of failed states and starvation is home to the fastest-growing economies in the world, and Manitoba is playing a role in one of its largest countries.

Businesses, inventors and experts here are sharing home-grown know-how with Nigerian business and government leaders to take back and prosper. They took part in business tours and a summit Friday organized by members of the Nigerian diaspora in Manitoba.

"The major topic this time is energy," said Ed Onyebuchi, the Winnipeg spokesman for the summit including 30 visitors from Nigeria.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, but its people still suffer from intense poverty, corruption and tribal conflict, according to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department. The GDP in the country of 168 million has grown steadily over the past five years. It grew 6.5 per cent in 2012, the World Bank reported.

On Friday, Nigerian visitors met with a solar-energy company in the morning and HD-Petroleum in the afternoon. The Manitoba company turns used motor oil into diesel.

HD-Petroleum’s "micro-refinery" requires a population of less than 500,000 to collect enough used oil to be profitable.

Earlier in the week, the visitors travelled to Portage la Prairie to learn about food processing and preservation opportunities. It’s déjà vu for Onyebuchi.

Four years ago, he helped organize a similar conference after a Nigerian trade mission was cancelled as a result of the economic downtown. One of the tours in 2009 was to Portage to learn about food processing opportunities.

Food is still a problem in Nigeria, which was once an exporter of food but now must import it to meet its needs, said Onyebuchi.

Saturday, the visitors from Nigeria will take part in a day-long look at economic opportunities featuring Manitoba know-how — including how to produce electricity and fresh water from landfills.

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