Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has commended the African Development Bank (AfDB) for diversifying its base to cater for the private sector in Africa and enhance their capacities.
He said by opening up to the private sector, the bank, which dealt almost exclusively with governments and the public sector in the past, was laying the foundation for building a strong and competitive entrepreneurial class worthy of competing evenly on the international stage.
Former President Kufuor was speaking on: “Challenges and Opportunities of Entrepreneurship and Capacity Development in Africa,” at the Eminent Speaker’s Forum of the AfDB at its headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia on Friday, a statement signed by Mr Frank Agyekum, Spokesperson to the former President said.
The function was chaired by Dr Donald Kaberuka, President of AfDB and attended by the bank’s top hierarchy, financial experts, the banking community and diplomats.
Former President Kufuor said although Africa abounds in entrepreneurial talents, the continent lacks the technical know-how and informative knowledge of the market to take advantage of the benefits of globalization.
“The indigenous entrepreneur by himself is so seriously handicapped by history and lack of practice. But his failure, automatically, is also the failure of his nation which becomes the dumping ground for imports which could otherwise have been produced competitively locally and which would have enhanced job-creation and employment.
“Therefore, it behoves the public sectors of the economy to join forces to strengthen and deepen entrepreneurial capacity as the main agency for a nation venturing into the international market successfully,” he said.
The former President said for Africa to get and secure its fair share of the market, it may be necessary to enter into partnerships that ensured know-how, capital and market for competitive advantage.
He said: “The critical mechanism to enlist such partnership is efficient and effective negotiating skills, which governments within their regulatory authorities should assist their private sectors with as they enter into partnerships with their foreign counterparts.
“The opportunities that would issue from the institutionalization and practice of the concept of Public-Private Partnerships as the cornerstone of Africa’s development will be legendary.
“The continent abounds in practically all the raw materials requisite for sustained industrial, agrarian and economic transformation for its people’s.
“It has the potential to become the single biggest market in the world in the foreseeable future. This is why it is being courted from the East and West. Now more than ever, it requires leadership of insight both in its political as well as its financial and intellectual institutions to guide and mainstream itself into globalization.”
Former President Kufuor earlier on Thursday, had separate meetings with Dr Ben Jafaar, President of the Constituent Assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution for Tunisia, and Mr Beji Caid Essebsi, who became Prime Minister in the wake of the Tunisian crisis that precipitated the Arab Spring and helped to bring the country back to normalcy.
Former President Kufuor will arrive in Shanghai, China, on Sunday for the second China-Africa Forum. GNA