Africa: Business Leaders at Africa CEO Forum Canvass For Good and Decentralised Governance

Business leaders at the ongoing Africa CEO Forum in Geneva, Switzerland believe that good and decentralised governance, not economic models, will halt economic degeneration and create growth.

The plenary session comprising Mo Ibrahim of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Pierre Guislain (Africa Development Bank) and Abebe Aemro Selassie of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on Monday blamed African governments for dwindling economic fortunes across the continent.

The call by respected business and socio-economic leaders for good and decentralised political systems at a forum where more than a thousand chief executives of leading African organisations are looking for a sustainable solution to the dwindling economic fortunes of the continent will put pressure on weak governments and encourage prudent management of resources.

Prominent heads of government in the audience — prime ministers of Guinea and Ethiopia (represented by his foreign affairs minister) — were intrigued by the twist induced by Mo Ibrahim’s argument despite efforts by the moderator to redirect discussions towards the agreed theme. Malady Youla of Guinea differed with him on the matter as other panellists seemed to toe similar path with the African leading philanthropist.

“It is essential to define what is truly called good governance,” a defensive PM Youla told the crowd of business leaders at the Intercontinental Hotel, China did quite a lot of good with a political regime that is far from being democratic. We do need some democracy and some rules but one needs to choose what to implement in Africa,” he reminded the audience.

PM Youla agrees that education, health and infrastructure are critical governance issues that must be addressed by African governments.

“We are latecomers to the global economy,” said representative of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dasalegn. He agreed that African governments should take advantage of global trends and platforms like the Africa CEO Forum, but not be entrapped by mistakes of other European countries. Explaining that Ethiopia government built the biggest dam in Africa, he described power as “very important.”

Responding to the moderator’s question on what he represents in the Africa economic model, Mo Ibrahim had sought to modify the theme of the conference — “Re-inventing the Africa Business Model” — on grounds that transparency should be much more important to African government’s than any economic model. “Africa is not a company; it is 54 countries,” says Mo Ibrahim while describing the situation as “big elephant in the room. He argues that Africa wants “countries with no corruption, an Africa that is more transparent with open governance.”

Mo Ibrahim’s insistence on transparency, education and good governance as a basic model for Africa development forced the Moderator, Ms Lerato Mbele of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to tweak the topic for the plenary after putting the matter to the audience vote.

Except a few dissents, basically, all the discussants agreed that Africa does “not need new economic model” but a better governance that will “not deprive investors of opportunities.”

Mo Ibrahim was particularly upset that “African leaders are now critical” of civil societies receiving foreign aids whereas some years ago “the presidents ran around Europe begging for funds.”

“For the past four years, over 120 African and international companies and investment funds and more than 30 CEOs, all emblematic of Africa’s economic vitality, have been nominated. 19 awards have been given, including four prestigious CEO of the Year awards,” a statement distributed by the Africa Media Agency said yesterday.

Africa CEO Forum is the most prominent international conference on the continent’s private sector development.

Evolved in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) the Africa CEO Forum is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specialising in organising events promoting and facilitating business.

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