“Unity has no meaning unless it is the ability of the coal miner in Botswana to power a plant in Angola or the farmer in Uganda to export food to those short of food in northern Kenya”. This is the verdict of Ozwald Boateng (ozwaldboateng.co.uk), a powerful force in menswear and fashion for 25 years, writing in the Times newspaper about the 25 May celebration of the 50th anniversary of the African Union.
He says Africa’s wealth will only be a blessing when put to use. Africa may have 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land”but this will only be a blessing once the land is cultivated and the produce from that land transported to its markets”. He points out how infrastructure, specifically railways, opened North America, the steppes and China.
“Lack of adequate transportation can add as much as 60% of the farm-gate cost of African agricultural products.. the farm-gate price of palm oil in Sierra Leone is double the world market price.
“Trade between African States stands at only 10% of all trade, compared with 60% in Europe.” He blames lack of infrastructure, restrictive customs, administration and technical barriers and lack of trade finance. But infrastructure is key and Africa needs $93 billion a year to invest in it.
He has formed Made in Africa Foundation (www.madeinafricafoundation.co.uk) with entrepreneur Kola Aluko and Atlantic Energy to promote, develop and fund feasibility studies for infrastructure projects. They are working with African Development Bank to implement Priority Action Plans of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), including transport, energy, water and information and communications technology (ICT).
“Once countries and people share infrastructure and assets, it is harder to go to war with each other. They have a mutual desire for the other’s survival as the wellbeing of eon becomes balanced with the others.
“Peace encourages industrialized nations to invest in Africa’s growth rather than mining, the sale of arms or in the aid charade of consultant and quick fixes. Virtuous behaviour creates more virtuous behaviour.” He says Africans have substantial work at every level “to change how we see Africa, in order for it to fulfil its potential”.
According to the website, Boateng says: “It’s a well-known statistic that US$400 million of funding for feasibility studies and master plans across sub-Saharan Africa would develop over US$100 billion of infrastructure projects, which in turn would create a trillion dollars of value across Africa. The first step is often the hardest and we have created this Foundation with Atlantic Energy to make that step easier for Africans.”