Business News of Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Source: B&FT

Africa needs leaders with guts

Mike Nyinaku, CEO of Beige Capital Ghana, has said Africa needs politician and leaders with guts like entrepreneurs on the continent in order to bring about the needed change.

"We need leaders who have guts; who have a strong appetite for risk-taking, and demonstrate a no-holds-barred attitude to stemming corruption,” he said at the 8th Vodafone African Business Leaders Forum (ABLF) in Accra.

This year's ABLF was under the theme "Setting the next agenda" and brought together business leaders from across Africa who discussed and debated key issues and challenges on the continent. It was organised by the Business and Financial Times, with Vodafone Ghana as the headline sponsor and support from Zenith Bank and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Nyinaku said: “Africa needs selfish reforms that disregard what everyone else thinks in order to gain control over its resources and wealth. Africa is where the action is; we must increase our stake in our wealth.

"In the next two decades, the new African must be a significant owner and beneficiary of the continent’s wealth. We should develop and support our local businesses to expand their capacity to compete in the global economy."

"We must not just be considered as a destination for good business for some others but must hold a significant and indispensable stake in our wealth and the management of our affairs.

"We must narrow the gap by owning our wealth because if we don’t these global giants would consume and further widen the gap between us and the developed world.

"Posterity would not forgive us if we do not feature prominently on the global business stage in the next 20 years."

Using Asia as an example, he said Africa must pursue inward-looking policies or its resources will continue to be plundered.

Companies like Samsung and LG have become global giants as a result of deliberate state support, he said, calling on the political leadership to clearly define what it wants and how to get it.

“Even if we violate trade laws, it means those laws are not favourable to us,” he said at the forum that was well-attended by entrepreneurs of all hues from Ghana and other African countries, as well as public sector actors.

Mr. Nyinaku paid glowing to tribute to “senior” business leaders on the continent, saying they laid a good foundation on which the new generation of business leaders must stand to “raise the bar”.

"The feats of our senior leaders and entrepreneurs have laid the foundation that will enable us change the landscape of our continent -- in our time.

"At this point we -- and I mean my generation - cannot help but commit to raising the bar so we can in turn hand over to our children an Africa with conditions that will energise and inspire them to dream bigger; not only to match up to the world, but to live to fulfil their full potential."

Dr. Kofi Amoah, a member of the ABLF Advisory Board, said for African entrepreneurs to move forward, an essential part of public resources must be used to support them.

“I believe that the creativity of our young people cannot come to fruition if we don’t provide the necessary financial and infrastructural support to push them. I have called for the setting-up of a US$1billion fund for Ghanaian entrepreneurs,” he said.

The Executive Director of the Business and Financial Times (B&FT), Mrs. Edith Dankwah, said the time has come for Africa “to take the bull by the horns” and put its resources where they are needed in order to make a meaningful impact on the world’s economy.

“It is ironic that African countries are unable to trade among themselves. If we cannot conveniently engage in trade across borders, we shouldn’t expect to increase trade volumes with the rest of the world. And if we would like to see trade as a necessary vehicle to drive us into economic prosperity, we must first advocate for the breakdown of trade barriers and encourage intra-Africa trade.”

Various speakers at the forum called for a new way of doing things in Africa, whereby a strong public sector supports an ambitious private sector to create the needed jobs and growth on the continent.