AFRICAN UPDATE: The Global Briefing For Africa: Interview with Stephen Karangizi

Main Article:  The following is a 5 minute interview with Stephen Karangizi, CEO and Director of the African Legal Support Facility. The African Legal Support Facility, hosted by the African Development Bank, has been supporting African governments in the negotiation of complex commercial transactions since 2010.  To find out more about the ALSF, please click here.

  1. What are the key areas of opportunity to capitalize on for Africa’s development?

The key opportunities for Africa’s development lie in taking advantage of the advances in Information Technology as well as a large young population.  Business opportunities remain for those who have long term objectives as the cost of business has gone down in a number of African countries and investment returns in Africa are always higher.  In addition, an expanding middle class of youth means a large absorptive market.

  1. Could the presidential elections that are going to happen in the next three years in Africa announce important political changes? Will these have consequences on the economic policy and on Human Rights in Africa?

The political dynamics of African countries differ from one country to another.  On the whole, Presidential elections do not impact significantly on a country unless the country relapses into a conflict situation like Burundi.

  1. Will the COP 21 and the international aid programmes for developing countries be a source of new economic developments in Africa?

Yes it should but also depends on your view point.  Some people argue that Aid is recycled: old commitments are modified to appear as if it is new Aid.  So one needs to look at the specific aid in question.  But at least some of the new Aid can be dedicated to climate favourable investments such as renewable energy. For instance off-grid renewable energy solutions can have quick development benefits for African rural communities not connected to national electricity grids.

  1. China’s growth is slowing down and the country is facing financial problems. Will this lead to less Chinese investments in Africa?

I am not sure whether that is the case but China has already made large investment commitments in Africa.  Africa also provides China with new investment opportunities.  Chinese investors can take advantage of the comparative labour costs which are lower in Africa.  An example in point is the successful leather processing industry established in Ethiopia in partnership with a Chinese company that has been very successful.

I think it’s more of the China economy slowing down due to various factors and not necessarily financial problems.