With the continent boasting six of the 10 fastest-growing countries in the
world, this initiative will accelerate growth. Over the past decade, the
simple, unweighted average of global growth rates was virtually identical in
Africa and Asia. Over the next five years, Africa is likely to take the lead.
In other words, the average African economy will outpace China. Charles
Robertson, global chief economist of Renaissance Capital, estimates that Africa’s
GDP will increase from $2 trillion to $29 trillion in today’s money by 2050.
Consequently, Africa will produce more GDP than the combined economies of
the US and eurozone do today.
Energy is a vital part of this equation.
At present, working hours lost due to power outages are double those in
emerging economies such as India and triple those in South America. With a
16pc increase in power generation, Africa’s GDP can grow by 10pc.
It was to ensure that Africa’s growth was underpinned with infrastructure
development that a team of us set up the Made In Africa Foundation with
Nigerian oil and gas magnate, Kola Aluko, and Atlantic Energy in 2011. The
foundation was to act as an advocate for the importance of roads, rail,
clean water, decent homes and energy in Africa and to formalise the work
begun by our commercial group, Made In Africa Ltd.
At the beginning of this year, with assistance from Bono’s charity, One.org,
we worked on the prototype initiative for energy development, which our CEO,
Chris Cleverly, coined “Power Africa”.
This is a programme designed to, as Mr Obama announced in Cape Town, “plug
Africa into the grid of the global economy”.
This is the key: Africa’s growth means global growth – it means growth in
Britain for our financial institutions as well as our builders. It is only
when Africa is part of the global system that the world economy can reach
its full potential. These developments are symbiotic.
The peoples and continents of the world are not separate, they are part of the
same social and economic system. Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa are
like four horses pulling a carriage. Starving one horse may mean that the
others are fuller but the carriage won’t get anywhere fast. We started Made
In Africa in 2006, at a time before Africa’s emergent growth was clear and
before social enterprise was common parlance. With such a high risk of
business failure in that environment, we believed launching any legitimate
business in Sub-Sahara was more altruistic than a hard-headed business
We knew that the biggest risk in Africa’s main interests — agriculture and
real estate — was lack of infrastructure to get supplies in and out and
ensure clean water and electricity was readily available.
We began an uphill struggle to convince development agencies, such as the
Department for International Development, that there was little point
building hospitals and schools without adequate electricity or if the
children had to walk five miles every morning to get an education. It was as
much a palliative move as distributing mosquito nets without fixing the
sewage system. Great for the net manufacturers and the aid industry, but not
a long-term solution for Africa.
By 2009, Gordon Brown and David Miliband, then PM and foreign secretary
respectively, were supporters of this approach. Mr Miliband asked us to
draft a “white paper”, in which we suggested that by using part of Britain’s
huge aid or export trade budgets we could ensure a Triple A credit rating
guarantee for projects.
Instead of just spending money piecemeal, Britain could create a multi-billion
dollar facility to support consortia of constructors, consultants and
engineers to build the much-needed infrastructure of Africa and give Britain
a significant growth opportunity. The way out of financial crisis is not so
much by cutting costs as by increasing your sales.
Just as Labour “got it” they lost the election. Such is the short-term
political world we have to deal with. By 2012, Britain had lost its own AAA
credit rating but fortunately, the AAA-rated African Development Bank (AfDB)
made infrastructure its main priority and launched a plan to create a $22bn
bank guarantee to support $70bn of infrastructure spending.
The AfDB agreed earlier this year to work with our foundation to raise funds
for the feasibility studies on road, rail, urban regeneration, water and
Last month, Britain recognised the importance of what is happening.
David Cameron said: “Let’s back Africans on infrastructure. They
have a point when they say it was largely designed in another era and
primarily focused on getting products out of the continent rather than
promoting trade within it. So let’s get behind (AfDB) President Kaberuka’s
But words are not enough; Britain must leverage the unique and historic ties
that it has with Africa, helping Britain itself to grow back to economic
An example is the work of the housebuilder Comer Group. With the leadership of
an influential Ugandan prince, Hassan Kimbugwe, and Made In Africa, the
business won an international tender to develop 160 acres of central
Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
At the time, the undeveloped site was worth $20m, the same site is now worth
more than $160m by international independent valuation. When developed, it
will be worth more than $3bn.
That, in microcosm, is the opportunity that is being recognised by Mr Obama
and elsewhere and should be understood here.
Bespoke tailor Ozwald Boateng is a founder of Made in Africa
Handing Africa the power to charge ahead – Telegraph.co.uk