ISLANDS ON AFRICA

Nigeria 2018 | DIPLOMACY | B2B

At a time of rapid change, it is crucial for Nigeria to look to the experiences of peer African nations for inspiration.

Ameenah  Gurib-Fakim
AMEENAH GURIB-FAKIM
President
Republic of Mauritius
Danny Faure
DANNY FAURE
President
Seychelles

What are some possible ways to stop the brain drain from Africa?

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim Mobility and migration have been ongoing since time immemorial. We have to see how we can promote brain circulation and, better still, brain gain. To do this we have to provide an ecosystem where bright Africans can come and work, and this ecosystem has to be better than the one they are used to. The challenge is on us to ensure we create ecosystems so we can retain them. However, as long as there is brain circulation we will be satisfied.

What can the Middle East, which is often seen as an example of fast and sustainable growth, learn from Africa which is also a hub for development?

Danny Faure Africa and the Middle East need to partner. We need to learn from the Chamber of Commerce in Dubai how it has gone about building infrastructure, the ports, and the logistics for business. It is one thing to have the business; it is another to have the logistics to distribute the business, export, or import the business. Those logistics are key for economic development. On the other side, Africa brings agriculture to the table. There is a huge potential in terms of agriculture and mining. If we can concentrate on the partnerships both continents can benefit from one another. It is a win-win situation. Also digitalization has happened faster in Africa than in many countries. There is always something to learn from countries, no matter their level of development. The problem is that we need to tell the story and communicate what we are doing.

How can the youth bulge that Africa faces be a threat to countries in the region?

AGF The youth bulge can be a boon; however, it can also be a bane if we do not channel this energy into the appropriate sectors where we create jobs. We have 11 million graduates joining the job market every year and Africa will need to produce enough jobs for them. This threat can be turned around provided we start thinking about it now. Our education system can prepare our youths for jobs necessary for the future. We need to be prepared so that the potential of our younger generations can be realized and used to transform the continent.

What steps need to be taken to unleash the potential of women in Africa?

DF The first thing is to believe in them. In my cabinet of 12 ministers, I have five who are women. Leaders have to have believe in women first. We need to include women, not marginalize them. This way we are doubling our human resources at the end of the day.

What can other African countries learn from Mauritius to help them open up to business and the world?

AGF We should not be prescriptive, but lead by example. For any economy, there is no Mauritian miracle. We provide a social security net and free healthcare for people. However, more importantly, we guarantee full education. This has been a key ingredient. Around 30% of Mauritius' GDP goes to these three categories. This is not an expense, but an investment because if we do not safeguard the interests of the people by educating them and providing them with healthcare, then we will not get a performing population. We also have elections every five years and the population demands ever-greater accountability. Politicians know they will only be elected if they deliver. Governance issues come to the fore and corruption has to be tackled. The business community and investors have to feel safe. The tourists who come here have to feel safe and get value for their money.