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Business News of Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Source: B&FT

Africa is making progress because of stability- Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama is confident that Africa will capitalise on the progress being made to open up a lot more opportunities for its citizens and investors.

He has therefore encouraged Ghanaians and Africans in the Diaspora to take advantage of the opportunities and “bring back home the experiences they have acquired over the years abroad”.

President Mahama, who was contributing to a four-member discussion panel as part of the launch of the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation in London, however advised African in the Diaspora to determine the gaps and expertise required in their home countries.

“If you studied rocket-science for example, we’ll have no job or opportunity for you in Ghana because we aren’t getting ready to go into space. But there are many other areas: waste-management, decentralisation, deployment of technology, etc.”

He noted that it is about time Africans took their destinies into their own hands in order to spearhead development of the continent in the coming years.

Other panelists were Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; President Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin; and President GoodLuck Jonathan of Nigeria.

President Mahama said although countries such as Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic are still engrossed in destructive wars and disturbances, the continent in general has made some strides and is attracting more Foreign Direct Investment than any other continent in over the past few years.

The Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation, which was launched at Grosvenor House in Central London, is aimed at ensuring nutrition and food security, eliminating youth unemployment, increasing awareness on girl-child education and enhancing the elimination of non-communicable diseases in the continent.

The launch attracted Heads of State, Non-Governmental Organisations and the business community from the African and European continents.

President Mahama suggested that in order to consolidate the gains made over the years, African leaders must invest heavily in education and skills training, promote entrepreneurial development and encourage their citizenry in the Diaspora to contribute their quota to the development of their countries.

“Africa is growing tremendously -- to the extent that out of the ten fastest-growing companies in the world that are identified, six of them are coming from Africa.”

President Jonathan in his contribution said the government sector in many African countries is choked, and advocated the promotion of private entrepreneurship that has the capacity to create more jobs for the youth and supplement the efforts of governments to dissuade borrowing from international financial institutions.

The Nigerian President also appealed to the warring countries in Africa to stop and chart the path of peace and unity that can enhance their political advancement and economic development, which would reduce their dependence on developed countries.

President Yayi Boni of Benin on his part attributed lack of employment in Africa to lack of skills, and suggested a focus on Vocational and Professional Training to equip the youth with skills to make them self-employed.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf called for increased intra-African trade that will promote African creativity and reduce the importation of goods from the developed world to developing countries which end up stifling their initiatives.