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Where Is Your Moral Backbone? – Mo Ibrahim Asks Middle East & Asia

Sudanese cum British mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire, Dr. Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim, has posited that facilitating greater socio-economic and political integration within the African continent has remained largely elusive because of the number of borders across the continent.

To him, the way forward for the 54 African countries is to “enable the freedom of movement of capital, people and goods across all borders.”

“I think one of the main challenges we have is the issue of Regional Integration of Africa. Everywhere I go in Africa, I keep harping on that issue because we need to do away with this 54 borders between these countries. The only difference between Africa and China is that we have 54 countries; if China had 54 individual provinces each with its own laws, I think China would have been where Africa is today. So the way forward for us in Africa is to enable the freedom of movement of capital, people and goods across all borders. That is a must for us to move forward,” he said.

The Celltel International Founder was giving the keynote address on “Investing In Africa; The New Frontier For Growth” at a round-table forum during the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) in Dubai, which ended on Thursday.

Discussants at the round-table included Mr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, Executive Chairman of Zoomlion and Jospong Group of Companies; Hon Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Trade & Industry, Republic of Namibia; Mustafa Osman Ismail, Minister of Investment, Republic of Sudan; Etienne Alingue, Economic Director, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF); Emmanuel Noutary, Dir-Gen, ANIMA.

Mo Ibrahim, whose foundation invests in governance and leadership in Africa, was unhappy with the categorization of Africa “as a place of famine and full of troubles” and the tag of “corruption” placed around the neck of the continent. He believed corruption has two partners; the “politician” and the business person” and that the time has come for the spotlight to be thrown on “corrupt business people”, pointing out that one “cannot have a better governance unless” both governance in the public sector and corporate world is grown together.

“One of the issues that sometimes when people talk about Africa is they always talk about corruption. Africa is not unique, we have a problem with corruption everywhere but the reality is that corruption usually has two partners. One partner is the official or the politician; the other partners are the business people. And for every corrupt politician we have a dozen corrupt business people. We always throw the spotlight on officials I think it’s time to turn the spotlight on corrupt business people. Because, we cannot have a better governance unless we grow both governance in the public sector and corporate governance as well,” he said.

Dr Ibrahim, who launched a Foundation in 2006 to support good governance and great leadership in Africa, also questioned the moral chutzpah of European and some Asian countries to accuse Africa of lack of transparency and accountability in governance.

Citing Ghana and Kenya as examples of African states with thriving democracies, he rhetorically asked, “Where is your moral backbone? Our partners need to have the same high standards of morals. In Africa we (civil society) are taking issues with our governments on corruption and transparency…No continent in the world has had index where we review governance in Africa, where we measure 88 parameters of performance of every country in Africa…we dress accountability (in Africa).”

“…When you address Africa, be a little careful about tarnishing the continent… Africa has at least 30 functioning democracies with peaceful transfer of power through credible elections. We had some very tough elections in Ghana, Senegal…Kenya. In Ghana, the difference was very small yet people conceded peacefully, those who disagreed simply went to court, they did not take to the streets. That is a wonderful example and people in the Middle East or nearby here can follow that example. That is really in a nutshell, the situation in Africa,” he stated.

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Source: Nana Kwadwo Asante Agyemang/Dubai/UAE

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