The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone Ghana, Patricia Obo-Nai, has tasked policymakers to make fundamental changes to Africa’s macroeconomic environment to position the continent as a preferred investment destination.
According to her, policymakers in Africa must introduce innovative ways to change the African narrative to help attract investors. “Africa should be more deliberate in creating an enabling environment to encourage investment on the continent. Having gone through the pandemic, we cannot leave it doing businesses as usual. We must look at the way we incentivise investors to come in. We must be deliberate about interest rates and also look at the direct-to-consumer resource generation,” she said.
She stressed the importance of human capital, saying, “Both the government and private sectors should invest in human capital to enable us to take advantage of the transformation happening in the world.”
Ms. Obo-Nai made these comments at the sixth edition of the Global Business Forum (GBF) Africa held in the United Arab Emirates. As part of her submission, she outlined major interventions to stimulate private investment. Even more so because the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant impact on foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, with flows to the continent declining to US$40 billion in 2020, from US$47 billion in 2019.
She further stressed that effective public-private partnerships and collaborations are the way to change the narrative for Africa.
“There’s no way the private sector alone or government can drive access to affordable and reliable internet connectivity. There should be a partnership between the government and the private sector to drive this idea. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near mobile access penetration. The media age for Africa is 19 years. For Ghana, it is about 21 years. The population is expanding and with COVID-19, we have seen a surge in digital adoption and the use of technology.”
She added, “The reason Africa has not benefited from all this is fundamental to the digital divide. We’re interested to note that almost 3.7 million people don’t have access to the internet – not because the services are not present – but because they don’t have the devices.”
Ms. Obo-Nai further hinted at the interpositions required to lift the profiles of businesses operated by women in Africa.
“Women are 50% of the population of the world. And if you go into the Africa statistics, it’s probably 90% of women in the informal sector. When faced with a pandemic, they are the most affected. What they need is structure. It’s amazing when you put digital in the hands of these women.
I experienced it myself when trying to get them access to devices and teach them how to access credit. For me, the investor should not look at the size of the woman’s business today. Look at the potential, the idea that exists and the capabilities of the resources that are available to develop a business,” she emphasised.
The GBF Africa 2021 brought the trade and investment community together to explore bilateral trade opportunities between Dubai and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Forum was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.