Thursday, 25 November 2010

Good governance and increased prosperity

On recent trips to Asia both the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and the US President, Barack Obama have made the point of highlighting one of things that can make the Commonwealth stand out in the future – the importance of the link between good governance and increased prosperity.

Addressing the tricky topic at his lecture in a Chinese’s university, David Cameron said ‘I am convinced that the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go in step together.’. This approach is key to the Commonwealth future success, I have always argued that the Commonwealth should give an equal focus to both the Harare Principles, on good governance and human rights and to the Edinborough Economic Declaration. This is proven by many Commonwealth members, who are required to abide by certain rules regarding governance, human rights and the rule of law, or face expulsion from the association. It is no coincidence that the same countries are nearly always investment destinations of choice.

Making this point very clearly, President Obama in his address to the Joint Session of the Indian Parliament during his recent trip said "As India marks 60 years with a strong and democratic constitution, the lesson is clear: India has succeeded, not in spite of democracy; India has succeeded because of democracy,"

Britain, India and other Commonwealth countries can help in the development of other countries by explaining how their focus on good governance has led to increased investment and increased prosperity. Commonwealth successes, are based on a respect for the rule of law, human rights, etc as it is these things that give investors the confidence to invest in the association’s member states rather than other countries.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


I was delighted to be in China last week for the first time in 10 years, even in that short part of the country’s history the change is remarkable. The level and quality of the infrastructure that has been built over that period is incredibly impressive, and beyond world class - the west would envy much of it. I also had the chance to visit the Olympic village, and see the birds nest stadium - another remarkable achievement!

I was there to sign an agreement with a large Chinese infrastructure conglomerate AVIC. The agreement is to help introduce Chinese investment into Commonwealth countries, predominantly in Africa. We hope to use the agreement to highlight investment opportunities in the less recognised and developed parts of Africa to enhance their development agenda.

The second side of the agreement focused on developing better partnerships between, British and Chinese companies, and I am grateful for the presence of the British Ambassador to China, Sebastian Wood, in recognising this.

China like India will drive the global economy for the next 50 years, a fact that is increasing recognised by western leaders. David Cameron is currently leading the largest trade mission (4 cabinet Ministers and over 40 business leaders) Britain has ever taken to country, in order to pursue the aim of doubling trade between the 2 countries. Missions like these will increasingly become a feature Heads of Government’s trips to China.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Power reform in Nigeria

Last month at the request of HE Goodluck Jonathon we organised in collaboration with the Presidential Task Force on Power, Chair by Professor Bart Narji, a Presidential Retreat for power Sector Investors. The President called the retreat to discuss with the international private sector his Roadmap to privatising Nigeria’s power sector. CBC brought 70 high level International power sector investors to the event from over 30 countries, both inside and outside the Commonwealth. In total 400 people attended the event, to hear addresses from the President, Vice President and Senior Ministers.

The Economist, who were in attendance, wrote an interesting article about the retreat that can be read here

The following week, we here honoured to host a lunch for the Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, during his visit to London. The Vice President addressed a packed room of CBC Members, High Commissioners and business leaders with an interest in Nigeria on the power privatisation plans, during which he described CBC as a ‘true friend of Nigeria’.

CBC has been fully engaged with Nigeria since its return to democracy, in fact we were the first organisation to organise an investor conference in the country. Over the last few years, however, our relationship has shifted in priorities, moving away from more generalised trade and investment promotion – that Nigeria is needing less and less as the world wakes up to the opportunities available in the country - to more niche work, such as the power retreat. This change, I think recognises Nigeria’s move towards middle income status and as one of the drivers of Africa’s economy over the coming years.