Interview with Bob Geldof

01/07/2009
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Bob Geldof

“For the 27 years that I have been coming to the continent, what I see is the creativity, the dynamism, the intellectualism and the productivity of the 900 million people on the continent (…),” says Rock Star, Bob Geldof.

Question: Thank you so much for coming to the Bank Group. What kind of partnership are you expecting from and with the AfDB?

Answer: It’s the first time at the Bank. It’s just fine that the world is just beginning to see the opportunity that is Africa and not just the other images. For the 27 years that I have been coming to the continent, what I see is the creativity, the dynamism, the intellectualism and the productivity of the 900 million people on the continent (…). There is no other possibility for Africa than economic growth. It has all the resources in the world. It has a huge labor pool of willing and enthusiastic people, governance is increasing, the business environment is improving, conflicts have lessened, representative government is increasing and by 2040 I don’t believe that there is another possible proposition for Africa than as an economic giant. Finally, the last thing I can do in my life as an individual is that having known the political stars, the economic stars I can now possibly talk to the business stars. I can tell them about Africa and introduce them to experts such as the African Development Bank which is a fantastic global multilateral institution. Thank God they are here. I have great respect for the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka.

Question: What do you think Africans can do for their continent?

Answer: Well, Africa will resolve its own issues just like America resolves its own issues….Africa needs infrastructure to achieve that. For that, you need massive infrastructure growth. You need the roads, bridges, and the rails. Strangely, Africa will grow in a way that has not been predicted by those who model this growth. I think Africa will drive the newer models for computer programming simply because of the different realities.

Question:  Multilateral institutions are looking for more resources …

Answer: I know for fact that donors told me that projects could be on hold. This is a disgrace. This is holding back Africa’s growth and as a result, people are unnecessarily unemployed. And they have children that need education. The global financial crisis happened because we have an asymmetric global financial architecture. 50% of the world was excluded. That makes no sense. That creates instability. How can you remove 50% of the global population from the global economy? That means we cannot sell them our stuff. That is preposterous. By definition, there is a limit to what you can do. The G-20 was supposed to bring these marginal economies to the centre. They have been trying to, but the measure of how much they ignore this continent is that while there were a few smart Africans at the G-20, - Meles Zenawi, Donald Kaberuka – the AfDB was not refinanced and this is puzzling as the amounts needed to recapitalize the AfDB are so small. From this situation, you have to question what is going on. Do they only feel that this continent is terra incognita? Europe is just a few miles from the richest continent in the world. Europe’s future is dependent on Africa’s future and vice versa. We have always been in this historical tango. We just have to learn the rules of the new dance.