Renowned philanthropists, Bill Gates, Mo Ibrahim and Aliko Dangote have expressed concern over the effect of climate change and the stereotypes on Africa that have hindered business opportunities in the continent.
Deliberating on the Future Business in Africa, at The Africa Center on Tuesday, the three entrepreneurs said the climate change is an issue that must be confronted headlong to minimize its effect on the continent.
African heads of state, business leaders and celebrities, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, were in attendance.
Bill Gates brought up the challenge of climate change saying “Africa is where we are going to meet some of our toughest challenges. Sadly, the impact climate change, although Africa had the least to do to cause climate change. The actual difficulties will first be felt by the farmers of Africa,” he said.
He asked rhetorically, “Why is the continent where the availability of the labour is the highest, where the availability of land is the highest, where the production per hectare is the lowest, why can’t it move not only to be self-sufficient but also to be a net exporter.
Aliko Dangote spoke about Africa’s rising wealth, saying: “Today when you look at it you are thinking about the five fastest-growing economies in the world – four are in Sub Saharan Africa.”
He added Africa has got potentials which if properly managed can lift the continent to an enviable height.
In his own view, Mo Ibrahim said the stereotype of African corruption is an issue.
“Let’s be frank, there is a lot of minds in the West here – people think Africa is a very corrupt place. Corruption is a problem a global problem. I don’t think it is an African problem.
“It’s not just about more seats, and more schools and more (inaudible) or more whatever we are doing there it is about the quality of that and what are we teaching our kids”, he added.
The CEO of the Africa Center, Uzodinma Iweala stated stated that, “we are here right now facing a world on fire because some people could imagine how to function without fossil fuels, and we are here alone because a vast majority of us can’t imagine a life without mass consumption
“And we are here because for the most part, we cannot imagine true equality in which we value the existence and visualize the potential of each individual and the societies they come from no matter how different they look or seem.”