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Davos: Africa Rising

Jan 24, 2014, 9:51 AM

This week the spotlight will be thrust on the world Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos. Top business executive, world leaders and media personnel would rub shoulders in stratospheric networking style “to reshape and balance the global economic”.

The theme of this year’s meeting suggests that global players in business and politics are accepting that the global economic tectonic plate is shifting. Yes, shifting from the west to the emerging markets like Brazil, India, China, South Africa, Mexico, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Indonesia.That is why all the goods and greats in the realms of economic in Africa are not taking this year’s world Economic Forum lightly. With the rafts of opportunities that comes with investing in Africa, albeit ripping huge returns, Africa is described as the “the last frontier of growth”.

But before plunging into the nitty-gritty of the World Economic Forum, let me pay tribute to one of the towering figures in journalism who died suddenly in his London home, Komla Dumor. He was a transformative figure with a passion to tell the African story as it is. Komla Duumor, as I used to pronounce his name, mimicking Tim Wilcox also a BBC presenter, meant everything and anything to me. I looked up to him as the leading light of African journalism. I was shattered, disoriented and shocked upon reading his death.

I was watching a Barclays Premier League game between Liverpool and Aston Villa half way through to the second half when I snatched by laptop to keep myself up to speed with what my Facebook friends were up to. Apparently tired as I was winding down work at the American Corner, I saw a news story that jolted me into action. The headline reads “Komla Dumor is dead”. I could not believe my eyes.’ No Umaru Fofana must be joking’, I said to myself. Umaru Fofana is the BBC Africa correspondent in Sierra Leone.To further verify the story which was written by joyfm online Newspaper, I refreshed my BBC page which was opened since in the morning. “Bang” came the grim news again. I was crestfallen.’ It is true that we lost Komla Dumor’, I told Bakary fatty, a Law student I was sitting with.

What makes the story unbelievable was that I saw Komla Dumor that week presenting his Africa flagship programme, Focus on Africa, on television. He was visibly healthy alive and kicking buoyed with energy and enthusiasm, as always. I can vividly recall his last programme. The headline on that day was on a veiled threat that the charismatic but ruthless Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, gave to political dissidents of his country. After flashing his infectious smile to the camera, Komla Dumor read the headlines and settled to interview the Rwandan High Commission to the United Kingdom, Williams Nkurunziza. He fired his question addressing him as Mr., always showing respect to people, he asked by saying that betraying your country have its consequences whether President Kagame was tacitly acknowledging that his assassins gun down the former Rwandan spy chief, Patrick Karageya, who was strangled to death in his hotel room in South Africa. Unsurprisingly, the question sent chills of unease in the High Commissioner, who mumbled a denial before deliberately plunging into the strong economic credentials of President Kagame’s government, an often-repeated tactics by regime figures whenever the ruthless side of the president against political opponents is mentioned.

Happy, I said to myself this is vantage Komala at his best. True to his slogan, he challenged leaders and showcased the pioneers. Since hearing his voice on BBC, first on the now defunct Network Africa, I have a hunch Komla Dumor is destined for great things in the broadcasting profession. He rose to become a presenter on The World Today, Africa Business Report, the first TV Programme dedicated to Africa on the BBC and Focus on Africa. Thinking about all this makes me feel sad.That is why I decided to write on the theme that Komla likes and passionately believed: Africa rising. He presented on this theme not long ago in South Africa, where he covered the death of Nelson Mandela for the BBC.

Enter Davos

View from any vantage point possible, one cannot help but conclude that African economies are rising with fast-pace. This is a stark contrast to decaying economies that were prevalent immediately after independence up to the 80s. From South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Botswana, Senegal, Mauritius, Cape Verde to Kenya, Africa is rising. The floundering economies are now fully turbo-charged.

From 22-25 January, all roads would be leading to Davos, Switzerland. All the political and economic heavyweight of Africa would make the case for investors to look at the potentials that lie in investing in Africa. The case for investing in Africa is simple: Investors have put their money in Europe, Aisa and Latin America. But with these economics recovering from the global financial crass, they should look into Africa to invest and bring benefit to all. Yes, in Africa investment brings benefit to both the investor and the host country.

With a huge youth bulge, Africa is ripe for growth if governments invest on creating jobs and educating youths with the requisite skills needed for them to compete in an increasingly competitive world. The” take- off” that Africa is set on, can only be realized if governments in Africa invests in education and healthcare and less on military gadgets.

In the next three days in Davos respected voices in Africa would lobby hard to persuade investors to look at the “roaring lion”, as Africa’s rise is dubbed comparing it with the “Aisian Tigers”. The finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Ukoju Iwela, Donald Kabruka of the African Development Bank and Prazin Godan, the Finance Minister of South Africa, Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese telecommunication tycoon, Chris Karubi, Kenya’s leading industrialist and hordes of business leaders will be the face of Africa in this crucial meeting.

They are going there against a backdrop of strong economic growth in Africa. This is unprecedented. For a continent that was known as the byword for poverty and conflicts, registering such economic growth is startling to many who underrated the potential of Africa. Conflicts are still festering but not widespread like before. South Sudan, DR Congo and Central Africa Republic are still restive but that is not going to take the shine off crown jewel of the World Economic Forum in Davos: Africa.

Growth should benefit all

In the run-up to the World Economic Forum, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published as damming report. According to the report, the income of half of the richest people in the world combined surpassed that of half of the world poor people.

This income disparity revelation was a better pill to swallow. Chief Executive officers and their high bounces were singled out for criticism. While the global economy is stagnating CEOs are busy giving themselves big bounces and the poor is wallowing in poverty. Cooperate greed should be tackled, really.

Even as we are celebrating the economic growth in Africa, it is not trickling down to the masses. Poverty is still endemic in the Kibera slum in Kenya, squalid shacks in Gauteng South Africa, Maiduguri in Nigeria. Economic advancement should extricate this people out of poverty before we claimed that economic growth is “bringing benefit to all”.

Challenges facing Africa

Conflicts, inequality, corruption and dodging tax are some of the challenges that are likely to confront Africa as it open a fresh page in its economic history. Leaders should come clean and declare their assets and clampdown on corrupt officials. Social justice should rein least we return back to the dark ages. The Arab spring was largely due to lack of social justice in the countries it engulfed. Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were all notorious in discrepancy between the haves- and-the haves-not.

African nations should also resist being used as safe havens for saving dodgy monies of corrupt official from other countries and continents. And leaders demand that people, especially those with deep pockets, to pay tax.Failure to address these challenges risks putting the growth that we are registering into a downward spiral. Prime Minister Cameroun and his finest Chancellor of the Ex Chequer, George Osborne, did a great service to humanity by focusing attention to last year as Britain chaired the G8. But don’t tell this to the Labour leader Ed Miliband and his shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. They might brand you as someone who did not felt slightly embarrassed supporting a government that is headed by big flip-floppers.

Prospects for the Global economy

The forecast for the future of the global economy is very rosy. The economy of the leading economy the United States is picking up; China is also seeing a robust economic growth but not as it was before. The 7.7 economic growth for last year would come as stunning disappointment to President XI jinping and his politburo. The revelation of secret offshore bank account that his brother-in-law is believed to have will also put a mockery to his reputation as tough president who will to bat an eyelid on tackling corrupt officials.

India and Brazil are also enjoying some smooth economic growth. But with the former gripped by street protest last year that paralyzed the country and the latter’s economic growth chief architect resigning this year as Prime Minister, it would be interesting to see what figures will tell there in the next month and years to come.

But what makes this story remarkable is that Africa is rising. The global cup, as Fareed Zakaria, an American of Indian descent noted in his highly-acclaimed book “The post American World and The Rise of The rest”, the rise and fall of economies is the ying and yang of the globe.It is Africa’s turn lets seize it. Africa Rise and Komla, as Africa is rising may your gentle, innocent and innocuous soul rest in Peace.Ameen.

Author: Amadou Camara, an intern at the American corner and final year political science student at the University of the Gambia