Two simple but meaningful statements. The US President Donald Trump’s comments on Africa as just a “business paradise” for his “friends” should get all investors thinking, Africans especially.
During a luncheon held in mid-September 2017, in parallel with the UN General Assembly in New York, Donald Trump congratulated his peers (including Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria) on the fact that Africa is where many of its friends go to “get rich”.
“Africa has tremendous commercial potential,” the billionaire said.
Trump continued with a statement that created such an outcry. In fact, it is a “heartbreaking account”, by a spontaneous, well-informed president who speaks without tiptoeing around and who seems to be satisfied with the fact that Africa is the “cash cow” of his “friends” .
“I’ve so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they are spending a lot of money”, Donald Trump added.
These words only highlight a persisting issue: the place and the chance of the African entrepreneur / investor in the African market. From then on, some legitimate questions can be raised:
Why “almost exclusively” Trump’s “friends”, yesterday, today and tomorrow (if awakening is not activated and the political class even more courageous), take the lion’s share in the African Economic El Dorado ?
Why should the African investor be almost reduced to silence in the decision-making bodies? Why does he almost fail to take advantage of the resources more than Trump’s “friends”?
For how long will Africa be the “waiter in his own restaurant and pay the customer’s bill”?
Why is it easier for the “Trump’s friends” than the brave entrepreneurs of the continent?
Many such questions can be asked, but the main lesson to be drawn from this declaration that one can love or hate is that it should trigger the imagination of investors and intellectuals on the continent and its diaspora. Let’s see the cup as half full! In fact, they should rather work to bring more energy, resources and “trust” to the continent. That is the real challenge: to become influential leaders, not followers. This requires further entrepreneurship initiatives, innovation and inter-African solidarity.
In closing, Donald Trump showed the way:
“For American firms it’s really become a place that they have to go — that they want to go” he says.
The “american dream” is thus partly realized in Africa! So if Donald Trump’s “friends” made it, why not you, Pan Africans and professionals from around the world? Why not the African dream?