“The Sub-Saharan Africa is just the size of Belgium in economic terms” — Soludo

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[Abuja]–Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a Nigerian economics professor and a former Governor and chairman of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria has said that Sub-Saharan Africa is just the size of Belgium in economic terms.

He spoke in Abuja, yesterday, at a panel discussion on the 10 years of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) operations at the Infrastructure Summit.

Also at the forum were, Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

In his words, Soludo said “The Sub-Saharan Africa is just the size of Belgium in economic terms. You can imagine Belgium being divided into 54 isolated countries.

“Second, several studies have shown that about 40 per cent of non-land private Africa’s wealth happened to be outside of Africa and the missing link, really, is creating the kind of platform to unleash African capital to be able to move across borders, to mobilize African capital.

“Because in my view, it’s only the African capital that can form the fulcrum. If African capital doesn’t move, is it the domestic capital that will say to the foreign capital, here is the place to make money?

“So AFC is to provide that kind of platform, to mobilize African capital to move across borders where African capitals infrastructure which has been the missing link, can begin to fill in the missing dots in terms of linking this small, if you like, these disarticulated Belgiums, as it were.”

Adeosun in her address revealed that there is huge appetite globally to invest in Africa’s infrastructure, and added that “We need to properly package and showcase the opportunities.”

Obasanjo in his part narrated his visit to Singapore when he was the president in an effort to unravel the secrets of the Singaporean success, with a view to applying same to the continent.

He said, “I remember taking 40 young and up-coming Africans to Singapore some years back. Lee Kuan Yew hadn’t written his book “from Third World to First World,” and we wanted him to tell us how he did it.

“We wanted to know the magic and Yew told us there was no magic. “He said: There is no magic. We did a few things right and we continue to do them right. We in Africa have done a few things right. Our problem is that we don’t continue to do them right. “Many things are wrong about Africa but a few are right. We should continue to do those things that are right.”

Osinbajo, however said that “there is no question at all that all of what we required, all of what is needed will not be provided just by government.

“As a matter of fact, it is very clear that governments cannot finance the huge infrastructure needs of most countries,” he added.




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