Kigali - Former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, said on Friday that access to education and good governance held the key to the continent’s success and prosperity, and also called for the era of impunity among African leaders to come to an end.
“The first thing that we need to do for Africa to prosper is to have education for all. Education is the foundation of all development. At least we need to have access to basic education for all African children,” Obasanjo said.
“Secondly, we need good governance in Africa. The era of impunity must come to an end. The lack of good governance and the pervading corruption are not things that will move us forward. Good governance will lead to the development of basic infrastructure which will enable trade.”
Obasanjo was speaking during the third day of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) annual general meetings in Kigali, Rwanda.
More than 100 speakers, including academics, African and global trade development experts, are scheduled to speak during the four days of the AGM with a focus on unlocking Africa’s trade potential.
Obasanjo said there was a myth that African countries needed to trade with western powers for them to prosper.
“Africans say we cannot trade among ourselves because we produce the same commodities. But look at Britain and French trade. They produce the same industrial products and trade among themselves. Why can’t we do it in Africa?” Obasanjo asked.
“We need to harmonise fiscal policies, regulations and reforms so that doing business in Africa can be simplified. If trade is there, industralisation will also come, and we will be able to add value to our commodities and create employment. If trade is conducive, civilisation will be automatic, we will be able to add value to our citizens and enhance our commodities."
Obasanjo discouraged African countries from seeking financial assistance from international financiers like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying that they "prescribed bitter pills" for Africans.
“What can we do to enhance trade among ourselves in Africa and how do we do it? We must know how the international arrangements work, but beware that they are not meant for us, we need to copy smartly,” Obasanjo said.
“Every time you go to the IMF and World bank they prescribe a bitter pill to you. If you do not take it, you do not survive. If you do take it, you also do not survive. If Africa stands together, we will know what is best for us, and we can reduce foreign domination of the European Union.”
The Afreximbank meeting, which comes to an end on Saturday, also saw Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu, sign a U.S.$100 million facility to be invested in 20 African countries.