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WHY INVESTMENT SUMMITS FAIL FOR AFRICANS

Zimbabwe And Ethiopia Sign Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreements With Russia

By Victor Mapunga
A year ago, a friend invited me to attend a meeting held by a Korean delegation and multilateral financier. The Koreans kept emphasizing that Africa is struggling to leverage the strengths of such countries because we keep sending the wrong people to them.

It’s insulting to amalgamate the best in your society for a global agenda only to be introduced to opportunists and extremely incompetent hustlers on the other side of the table. China also complained about a similar thing years ago. The Americans figured this out years ago and don’t really take Africa seriously. They would rather send Aid than do business on the continent. Worse, we’ve actually become addicted to that aid, but that’s another story.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? Most of our leaders are still stuck in the 20th century, where politicians and their associates mattered far much more than private capital & enterprise. But in an era where private individuals are building companies worth more than your GDP, that’s misguided thinking. We need them far much more than they need us. Most of them already extract value from our markets without paying a single tax.

The CEO of Samsung or a similar company isn’t interested in hobnobbing with your bureaucrats & sycophants. They are interested in meeting the people actually ‘building’ in your country, who can leverage what they’ve built to grow their businesses.

We completely defecate on this logic when we impose our preferred tribesmen on them in order to make a quick buck. These are very smart people, and they see right through the bs. They’ll take photos with you, but that’s the best you’ll ever get from them, and the closest to them again in a while.

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I’ve always asked that if Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg were to fly into Zimbabwe, for example, who would we introduce them to? I ask this frequently because the answers might shock you. There’s a group of utterly shameless individuals who’ll prioritize momentary fantasies of personal enrichment by association and completely desecrate on such a collective opportunity. These people are dangerous, and they are the reason FDI in Africa remains embarrassingly low relative to our investment needs.

Perhaps, what got to me the most from that meeting is that the Chief Investment Officer at that multilateral complained that these same individuals never bother to do follow-up meetings or provide adequate documentation to move forward with deals, the moment there’s some kind of due diligence, they vanish! Some finance Ministers have stood up investors in Zoom meetings.

A lot of these funds also have mandates. It makes zero sense to pitch road projects to people looking to build Data Centres for you. The same CIO highlighted this as a point of concern when we challenged him as to why funding seemed to be going to the same bs time after time. Some in our gvt love these projects because they create self enrichment avenues without any real impact, so the funding goes elsewhere.

So what’s the solution?

For now it seems, if you are an ambitious African entrepreneur living in one of these countries, the best is to incorporate elsewhere and use that flag instead. That also means your target market needs to adjust. You need to get yourself into these rooms without public sector support because they won’t do that unless it’s for a political agenda. Your competence will be severely punished so long as you’re not a part of such initiatives. He was writing on X

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