MONROVIA : Liberia’s Deputy Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa has admonished Leaders of the African Continent to consider the need to reach a common position that will establish and commission the usage of a single currency by Africa, adding it will make doing business in Africa easy as well as boost trade and commerce across the continent, adding, it is economically essential and critical to adopt such progressive measure.
Addressing delegates of the 8th African Leadership Magazine Summit (AML) at the House of Lords of the British Parliament, on 10th July 2023, under the theme: New Opportunities for African Investments, Collaboration, and Partnerships” and on 11th July 2023 under a concomitant theme: “Galvanizing African Political Leadership for Investment, Collaboration, and Partnership” at the Summit Special Panel held at the British Dorchester Hotel, the Liberian Deputy Speaker told the gathering of African and Western leaders that it is counter-productive to do business in a continent with about 40 different currencies, adding that many of the currencies have no value and the rest are artificially pegged.
He persuasively argued, “A single currency will make trade easier and our nations stronger in the global economy. If the African economy is strong, the incentives to engage and invest in Africa will be compelling and make economic sense”.
Deputy Speaker Koffa has also charged African governments to forge a common policy backed by a protocol that will categorically prevent African resources from leaving the soil of Africa as ‘raw materials’ as it has always been. He wants the raw material of Africa to be transformed into quality finished products on the soil of Africa, asserting, “If it is valuable enough to be extracted, it must be valuable enough to be processed and exported as finished products. It must carry the label “Made in Africa.” It makes no sense to extract our raw materials to supply factories in China that sell finished goods to the West. Our economies will not grow, our working class will not increase, our middle class will not prosper as long as we are hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
The Liberian Deputy Speaker calls on governments of Africa to unite on the concept of transforming Africa’s raw materials on the soil of Africa with the view that it will meaningfully shape the economies of Africa as more jobs will be created, revenue streams will be expanded, economic development will flourish, and the landscape of Africa will witness rapid infrastructure development.
“Africa must demand value addition because that is the proper and effective path towards building our economies. It does not make sense, for fishing trawlers to mine tuna a few miles off the shores of West Africa, take them to Spain for processing and packaging, then export them to Africa as finished consumables”.
Deputy Speaker Koffa stated that he was deeply pleased to speak at the summit because it focuses on new opportunities for African investment, partnership, and collaboration with particular emphasis on UK-Africa trade relations. He said Africa is ready and willing to work with British investors, noting that Africa shares part of the British culture in terms of Western democracy and political governance. “Millions of Africans have now come to accept government for, by, and of the people. Elections are the new norm. Many young and innovative African leaders have gone beyond that and are calling for reduced terms and term limits led by George Weah of Liberia and Macky Sall of Senegal. Our people have embraced democracy. Even more so, the normalization of women in politics was championed by Liberia’s election of the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa and a female vice president today. Liberia joined Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa in championing the cause of women in politics both in the executive and legislative branches”, he averred.
He informed the summit delegates that totalitarianism is being gradually erased from the African psyche of governance, adding, “Gone at the days where one man can just wake up in the morning and decided he must take over a whole country and subjugate a whole people without a democratic exercise to validate his whims and caprices”.
He told his British counterparts that Africa has improved the rule of law and is conforming to global standards by adhering to international laws, treaties, protocols, and regulations, hence, the time is now for the UK to intensify trade relations with Africa. Touching on the UK trade relations with Africa, the Liberian Deputy Speaker reminded the summit that at the height of the British Empire, the UK held more colonies than any other Western nation. “More people in Africa speak English than any other foreign language. The UK was instrumental in building democracies in Africa; hence we must give the Brits a chance in Africa as we have given others”.
At the same time, Deputy Speaker Koffa has charged the African Continent to embrace trade and not aid, in order to equate and distinguish itself on the global stage as a true partner. He stated that with a population of 1.2 billion people, Africa is poised to become a bastion of sophisticated consumers and not just victims of a world order which is in the ash heap of history, subjects of a guilt-ridden world who prefers to render pity and charity as a means of assuaging guilt that holds no one accountable and yet leaves no one better off.
Invoking the Pan-Africanism sentiments to rally the African spirit and solidarity in the room, Deputy Speaker Koffa paid tribute to the forefathers of Africa, saying, “I must admit that simply embracing democracy is not enough. Africa must recognize its full potential and go back to the future, the days when Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, William Tubman, and Jomo Kenyatta preached Pan-Africanism. There must be a new Pan-African movement for economic growth. A dear friend of mine wrote a book subtitled “Rich Land; poor country” which can easily describe most African countries today – from the Democratic Republic of Congo with its trillion-dollar mineral reserves to Equatorial Guinea and the Federal Republic of Nigeria with billions of dollars of oil deposits”.
Koffa called on the current leaders of Africa to rekindle the spirit of Pan-Africanism like their forebears by engendering the spirit of unanimity, that will see countries trade more together and exchange opportunities to foster socioeconomic growth and the advancement of all the African people. With unity, Africa can dispel the notion and stereotype that Africa is only associated with negative vices like corruption, poverty, violence, and war, he noted. “We have all the potential to be the global economic frontier but it will take visionary and accountable Leadership to shift the paradigm in Africa for the better”. He said Africa was well on course with building its infrastructure and improving the rule of law and civil liberties, but emphasized the need to improve political governance which is key to the socioeconomic advancement of Africa.
“This new Pan Africanism must vigorously implement the concept of open borders and free movement of African states. The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has successfully implemented this concept and is seeing significant benefits of trade between and among people of different nations. The African Union must move fast to implement the open borders and free movement policies so that increased trade and access to each other’s markets can be seamlessly accomplished,” he noted.
As one of the most outstanding events for the African Diaspora, the 8th African Magazine Leadership (AML) summit congregated over 700 policymakers, political leaders, private sector leaders, civil society leaders, thought leaders, media, and a horde of stakeholders in Europe, the US, and Africa to discuss issues that would prepare the private sector leaders for a more integrated and competitive African investment environment. ALM uses the summit to leverage unique access to some of the world’s most influential leaders, policymakers, and entrepreneurs–uniting those global forces to harness their collective knowledge to address current critical issues by finding innovative solutions.
Global leaders who graced this year’s summit include; Baroness Sandy Verma, a Member of the UK House of Lords; Lord Dolar Popat, a Member of the UK House of Lords; Johnny Ohisa Damian, Governor, of Bank of South Sudan; and Mrs. Josielle Rafidy, CEO, Economic Development Board of Madagascar.
Others include Prof. Muhammed Bello Abubakar, Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone Limited, Nigeria; Hon. Dr. Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, and Development, Mauritius; and H.E. Rindra Hasimbelo, Rabarinirinarison, Minister for Economy and Finance, Madagascar. The 2023 AML summit was hugely attended with numbers surpassing previous summits.