Friday, 25 June 2010

Africa and Aid

At the beginning of the week I had the pleasure of opening our G8 Africa Business Forum in London. The Forum is an annual event that feeds African private sectors views into the G8’s deliberations. Considering the recent economic turmoil we thought it best to focus on the good, and highlight the myriad opportunities offered by Africa, hence the theme Success stories and new partnerships.

The Forum was addressed by the Prime Ministers of Togo and Cameroon and Ministers from Angola, Namibia and Zambia. We were also delighted to have 2 members of the UK’s new coalition government address the Forum.

One of the Key messages coming out of the forum, and one I think is particularly important, from both government and business is the need for Africa to accelerate its move away from dependence on foreign aid to wealth created by its own citizens.

Future foreign aid must be directed to concentrate on reforms to deliver sustainable results and improve value for money. Aid should be targeted to improve the basic economic infrastructure, to improve competitiveness and produce higher rates of growth. As a result African government’s tax revenues will increase, which will in turn allow them to focus on their own social infrastructure. This will shift the responsibility for their delivery of public services like health and education to African Governments.

Entrepreneurship and the private sector are the only sustainable drivers of growth in Africa, and targeting Aid to enhance them should accelerate the continents ability to create its own wealth and increase its prosperity. I have personally been advocating this message to Aid Agencies and Governments and have written to the Chair of the G8, the Canadian Prime Minister to reiterate it.

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