A New Approach to a New Africa- Transcript of Speech by Tony Blair
29 March 2012
The South African.com - March 28, 2012
Below is the speech made by Tony Blair at the The Times CEO Summit Africa, 19 March 2012
“Without doubt Africa is on the move. Just consider the following: in eight of the past 10 years, the growth rate of Sub Saharan Africa has been faster than East Asia. The middle class is expanding. Today 60 million Africans have an income of over $3000 pa. Within three years the figure will be 100m. McKinseys predict that consumer spending will double over the course of this decade to $1.4trillion. Foreign Direct Investment has multiplied six-fold in the last 10 years. The composition of that investment is also changing. This year China will invest more in African infrastructure than the World Bank. Since 1991, African Governments have been changed through democratic elections 30 times. In the previous twenty years this happened only once. There were only 3 democracies in Sub Saharan Africa in 1989. Today there are 23.
Second, today, the vital necessity is functioning infrastructure, especially power. With electricity, given the technology we now have at our fingertips, everything is possible. Without it, progress will be depressingly slow. Likewise with roads and often ports. The people are eager for it. in 2000, there were only 10m mobile phones in Africa; in 2012 the figure is 735m. Take simple things like the lights being on in Freetown and Monrovia delivered by Presidents Koroma and Johnson-Sirleaf. The moment people see change actually happening it lifts the spirit of the nation and it gives them hope that Government can indeed get things done. To achieve this we need focus from Government and of course capital. But as Bill Gates and Tidjane Thiam told G20 leaders last year, this must be a high priority for the public/private partnerships and for cooperation between private sources of capital, IFIs and SWFs.
Third, Africa needs to carry on increasing the amount and the quality of FDI: to finance Africa’s infrastructure deficit; to partner African capital, and build continent-wide businesses; to create the conditions for a vibrant private sector in which small and medium business can flourish, bringing jobs and livelihoods. It is true that there has been this extraordinary increase in FDI since the turn of the century. But there is still great potential unfulfilled. This is not only true of the resource sectors, though clearly in areas like mining and food production there remain huge opportunities and there is going to be a rapid expansion of the oil and gas sectors in many countries. It is essential that intellectual capital comes in and can be transferred, particularly in the service sector. And there should be major possibilities for cooperation between inward investors on areas like infrastructure where they can also improve the development of the country.