MINING & BUSINESS MAGAZINE Can you please tell us about AfroChampions initiatives in a few words ?
Dr. Edem Adzogenu The Afrochampions Initiative is a private sector-led public-private partnership initiative, designed to mobilize and deepen the contribution of African private sector champions to the continent's integration, industrial transformation and its global emergence. It is co-chaired by the CEO of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, and Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and has among its patrons Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Our mission is essentially to mobilize African champions to promote Africa's integration and transformation. Our AfroChampions Charter provides a guiding framework for how the private sector should champion African development.
Over the past three years, AfroChampions has played a pivotal role in expanding the role of the African private sector in relation to continental integration. Under a special partnership agreement with the African Union, AfroChampions serves as the AU's leading private-sector partner organisation in raising awareness within the private sector on AFCFTA as well as assisting with the multi-country advocacy that has seen AFCFTA successfully come into effect in May 2019. AfroChampions is currently launching a major continental investment drive to mobilize private sector investments into pan-African infrastructure and regional industrial corridor projects required to make the AfCFTA work for Africa.
M&B What are your priority sectors in order to expand the continental economy at the same speed as multinationals?
Dr EA The key focus is to catalyse an explosion in intra-Africa trade by facilitating investments in regional infrastructure & trade connectivity, manufacturing & industrial corridors, agriculture & agro-processioning, climate-smart energy and technology. Our approach, inspired by the opportunities the AFCTA will bring, is to ensure African champions (not only pan-African champions but also more local champions aspiring for regional expansion) take lead roles in these sectors through intra-Africa commercial partnerships as well as partnerships with global investors.
M&B Makutano Forum will focus on bringing forward innovative ways to boost the African economy, do you think taking such a different approach compared to the western one is needed in Africa?
Dr EA It is time for Africans to take charge of Africa's transformation. This cannot happen if we play by old rules and with old models. It’s absolutely crucial to think outside the box, to be innovative in our use of commercial models intra-Africa partnerships as well as the models we use for striking partnerships with the rest of the world. We must disrupt, with ruthless innovation, the old ways of doing things. While we learn from Western best practices and Asian models, we must also craft and unleash African best practices on the rest of the world. For us, Afrochampion companies are one of our best hopes of achieving this as Africans. We do not have a critical mass of these companies yet, and that is why we must continuously push for governments to help create more Afrochampions; push governments to support more local champions to break beyond local borders and expand regionally; while supporting the current Afrochampions to go global. We need to see the "African Samsung" and the "African Toyota" .