A new report by the Africa Progress Panel calls for greater transparency in business dealings with the continent. The report presented by former UN chief Kofi Annan focused on Africa’s extractive industries.
The World Economic Forum Africa came to a close in Cape Town on Friday (10.05.2013) with delegates agreeing on the need to reduce bureaucracy and for a greater focus on implementation. At the end of the summit, the African Progress Panel Report 2013 called on African governments to do more to address the issue of fairer distribution of the wealth from natural resources. However, it also stressed that the continent had every reason to be optimistic. DW spoke to Strive Masiyiwa, a member of the distinguished Africa Progress Panel.
DW: Can you sum up the most important message of this report?
Strive Masiyiwa: There are two important messages. Africa is doing well, we are making tremendous progress particularly over the last two decades, but if we are to sustain this and to ensure growth that allows for employment creation for the youth, greater equitable distribution of prosperity, then we need to speed up the reforms, deepen transparency and reduce bureaucracy in getting projects approved.
Has Africa been able to effectively manage its resources?
No part of the world can ever say 'we have effectively managed our resources.' Africa is managing its resources better now than at any time in its history, but obviously we are coming off a low base and therefore we have a lot of work to do. Also you have to bear in mind that Africa is not a country, it has 54 countries and things differ from country to country. A country like South Africa is at a far better level of sophistication in managing its resources than, say, the Democratic Republic of Congo. But in general, we have reason to be optimistic, even though we have a lot of work to do.
What's been your experience of doing business in Africa - how are things changing?
I have done business in 17 African countries for more than 20 years. The changes that I have seen are quite dramatic during that period. There is far greater transparency, greater governance, I'm seeing better security, it is much easier to move around, people are ready to do business and governments are friendlier than they used to be. I used to deal with soldiers. So, things have improved, but there is still room for more improvement
Does your report talk about corruption and bad governance in some African governments and how these two issues can be addressed?
The Africa Progress Report is an annual report. I am a member of the leadership panel but the report is prepared by experts from around Africa in consultation with civil society, economic experts looking at the issues that affect Africa. Obviously we monitor corruption and improvements in people's lives. This year we were totally focused on the extractive industry. In the main we are seeing extraordinary benefits, but we have also called for a reality check on some of the issues that need urgent attention.
Were delegates concerned that there has been a lot of talking and little implementation?
I would be very concerned if people don't begin to talk! The fact that people come here every year in such large numbers means that there are some benefits to these meetings. The fact that we are seeing such increased growth rates amongst African countries also means that there is something that is being done right.
Strive Masiyiwa is a member of the distinguished Africa Progress Panel and participated in the just concluded World Economic Forum Africa in Cape Town.