Africa is not a country – President Kaberuka advises on better ways of doing business on the continent

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Africa is not a country but a continent of 54 states, which, in spite of many similarities, differ from one another in many respects, African Development Bank President, Donald Kaberuka told a development think-tank in Beijing on Monday.

Kaberuka said making this distinction had become necessary to ensure that potential business opportunities in African countries are not jeopardised by a single story line whereby negative issues in one country are attributed to all 54 countries on the continent. He was speaking at a round table discussion on “Investment Opportunities in Africa” organised by the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG).

Citing the Ebola epidemic which hit three countries in West Africa, Kaberuka said it was improper to use this to scare potential businesses destined for other parts of the continent.

In the same way, he said, it was unfair to associate China’s business relationship with Africa in terms of natural resources. This is because it is varied and more sophisticated, dating back to the 1970s when the less endowed China at the time had begun to finance infrastructure projects in Africa.

Having realised the fastest industrialisation in history, China now has an opportunity to help Africa emulate its successes through new development vehicles that are sustainable and beneficial to both parties.

The world is changing and the traditional way of doings things are no longer working, Kaberuka said, noting that development actors were ill-equipped to cope with some aspects of globalisation.

“The institutions we have today for managing globalisation are lagging behind the process,” he said.

The AfDB is innovating and adapting to the changing dynamics, Kaberuka said, noting that the 2008 global financial crisis would have hit Africa much harder if the Bank did not adopt counter-cyclical measures to assuage the impact of the crisis on the regional member countries.

Furthermore, the situation would have been much worse if the emerging markets did not step in to avert the disaster.

Kaberuka said the AfDB would continue to partner with countries and institutions that devise more innovative approaches to development.