CEO’s 2017 Year-end remarks

RIC 1416

We have come to the end of yet another exciting year.

Upon reflection, 2017 has been a year of major shifts in global politics and economics which have sometimes seemed that Africa’s profile as a hot destination for investment and growth was not a focus in foreign policies of developed countries.   Despite this perception, it is my belief that Africa is still firmly on a strong growth trajectory and that the current international trend of inward looking policies by most developed nations, have reinforced the commitment by African countries to cooperate with each other and become more self-reliant. 

Whilst foreign direct investment and partnerships with international companies is important to spur economic growth, the long term focus on securing sustainable and vibrant economies, must remain the responsibility of Africans to increase intra-African trade and investment.

The recent global economic downturn, slowdown in China’s growth and the shift of American policies with the election of President Donald Trump are just a few examples of how much can change within the span of a year or two, and now we know that such changes in the global context can easily thwart African strategies originally designed with much longer timeframes.

On the whole, Africa must become smarter and learn faster if we are to achieve our development objectives as well as take advantage of future opportunities. The peak of Africa’s demographic dividend (when our youth and able bodied will represent the largest percentage of our ballooning population) is fast approaching and we must be ready to catapult African economies towards higher GDP thresholds. It will take cooperation and collaboration by local role players including African governments and businesses with the full support of the African people, working together to create a conducive environment for sustainable socio-economic growth.  Africans must continue to take ownership of our future and diligently protect that position.

At the AU’s 9th African Private Sector Forum, which the NBF co-hosted with the AU and the Department of Science and Technology in November 2017, I was encouraged that African governments are taking more responsibility in defining Africa’s terms of investment by endorsing and releasing the “AU Pan African Investment Codes”, which set out guidelines on development expectations of investors in Africa.

I was also very inspired and encouraged by the passion, vision and technical expertise demonstrated by the 15 African Technopreneurs who demonstrated their innovative products they have designed and invented to address Africa’s challenges.  This next generation of Africans are actively taking responsibility for the continent and coming up with solutions using technology, to drive Industry 4.0 in the continent.  With some additional business mentoring and support, they are sure to make a big difference in the socio-economic development of Africa.

As we wade through the uncertain waters of global economics and politics, I am reminded of the African proverb that says, “Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you.” This is the time for Africans to come together and work as a unit, which will require the active participation of all Africans in a concerted effort aimed at addressing our challenges.

The NBF in 2017

This year, we celebrated a decade of operations in Africa and after 10 years, I can say we have proven our ability to act as neutral facilitators that can bring multiple stakeholders together, moving them past dialogue and getting them to work together on solutions to produce tangible results which have great impact on Africa. Through the successful implementation of our programmes, the NBF has gained credibility and acknowledgement by both African governments and businesses for the important convening and project management role that we play. We will be replicating this model to ensure successful delivery and implementation of projects in Africa.

I take this opportunity to thank our Patrons and Board of Directors for their leadership, and our members and stakeholders for their continued support. I also want to thank the NBF team for their hard work and unwavering dedication and commitment. They have proven once again that it is not the size of the team but the size of one’s ambition that determines excellent results.

I am proud of the work we have done and of the milestones we have reached over the past decade.  The NBF’s work is being recognised and acknowledged as playing a very important role in bringing the private sector closer to governments and collaborating for Africa’s development. Outcomes from our activities in 2017 have demonstrated the convening power of the NBF to deliver projects for impact and I am optimistic about our growth next year. 

Have a restful holiday season and we look forward to working together towards creating a brighter future for Africa in 2018 and beyond.


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