(Adds Ethiopian Airlines to fly to Kaduna)
LAGOS Feb 24 Nigeria has postponed for three
months a trade conference meant to drum up badly-needed
investment due to the temporary closure of its capital's
international airport, the organisers said on Friday.
The delay is the first sign that government and business
activity will be impacted by the six-week closure of Abuja
airport for runway repairs just as Africa's biggest economy
grapples with recession.
The airport will close from March 8 and the government had
hoped foreign airlines would use the smaller Kaduna airport
about 160 km (100 miles) 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
Ethiopian Airlines, who confirmed on Friday that it will fly
to Kaduna during the Abuja closure, are 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 in northern Nigeria. Underlining the
security risks in the region, two Germans were kidnapped on the
main Abuja-Kaduna road this week.
The government imposed a 24-hour curfew on parts of Kaduna
state this week after clashes between herdsmen and villagers
killed at least 14 in the region.
Organisers of the Nigeria International Trade and Investment
Conference said in a statement the event had been pushed back
from late March to June 13-15 due to the airport closure.
The conference aims in particular to attract farming
investment to boost local food production and reduce the
country's dependency on oil exports.
Nigeria's economy has been hammered by a slump in oil
revenues that has eroded public finances and forced the central
bank to devalue the naira several times.
(additional reporting by Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa; Reporting
by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Richard Lough and Toby Davis)