Guest post: memo to Obama - what Africa really needs is industrial partnerships

Guest post: memo to Obama - what Africa really needs is industrial partnerships

26 June 2013

By Ivor Ichikowitz of Paramount Group

Africa's time is now but its full potential can only be unleashed by those brave enough to forge true partnerships.

As economies stumble and fail around the world, the continent is the chief source of hope for global growth but the world's most powerful leaders are ignoring the truth.

China's rise is slowing. Brazil is struggling to deliver the infrastructure development to match the boom in its middle class. Turkey's seemingly unstoppable expansion looks to be in doubt.

But Africa is predicted to have seven of the world's fastest growing countries by 2015 and sub-Saharan GDP is already almost $1.3tn - more than the economies of South Korea and Mexico and only slightly short of that of Spain.

It is a continent of opportunity but it will only be unlocked through partnership. We in African have moved beyond a dependence on aid. The much-discussed idea of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on international aid dates back to a UN motion in 1970. Africa is very different now. Even "trade not aid" is now outdated and is not delivering the transformations required.

Instead, it is time for genuine partnerships to be hammered out between nations and for more developed countries to look beyond their received wisdom and inherent prejudice about Africa's abilities. Africa is already exporting the highest technology products around the world and finding new solutions to modern problems - but gets little recognition for it.

The re-emergent defence and aerospace industry is a prime example. My company, Paramount Group, delivers land, sea and helicopter and jet aircraft systems which provide cutting-edge technology for clients around the globe. South Africa's role in the ground-breaking Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is another - this technology will open our understanding of the universe by allowing scientists from around the world to examine the stars thousands of times faster than ever before.


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