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The Interview


ficient; what a lot of African countries need is really effective systems of government. So we found, for example, with the


work we did in Sierra Leone that there was money set aside for delivering the maternal mortality and infant mortality programme but there wasn’t a system in place to deliver it, so that’s what makes the difference. Or if you’re looking at agriculture in Africa, where the yields are often a fraction of what they are in developed countries, it’s not that you don’t have the land or the people [to develop it] but you don’t have the right methods and assistance from the government to get things done, so this is what we focus on and it’s really been very very successful. I think if you ask any of the three presidents we worked with they would pay tribute to that. We are really proud of the work that we have done.


Looking at the list of people that you partner with in these three countries, it seems there’s a lot of emphasis on in- vestment and little on the political side of things, is that the case? Yes, because when we work with the gov- ernments, it’s not my job to tell them what their priorities are – they know what their priorities are, it’s my job to help them deliver them. And what a lot of African countries feel today is that they need qual- ity private sector investment, you know, not bad deals done with the wrong type of company but quality investment. And the great opportunity for Africa is that that quality investment is waiting to come, so bring it in, making sure that you at- tract the right investment, and give it the right aftercare. Tis can then have a huge knock-on benefit for the country and it can bring in intellectual capital, which is also very important. Because all over Africa, and I don’t just


mean the countries we work with, we are meeting a generation of very smart young capable people. What I notice about Af- rica is what I noticed about India about 15 years ago. Everyone has suddenly started to realise there’s a new generation of really switched-on, clever people and it’s only a matter of time before they come through and start taking positions of leadership in government and in business and society.


So you’re a proponent of governance but in terms of a political system you’re not a proponent of any political system


38 | March 2011 New African


which you think is better than any other? You mean democracy or not democracy? No, I’m in favour of democracy. I mean, there’s no point in us working alongside a government that doesn’t want to make change in the right direction because it just doesn’t work otherwise. But what we focus on is the effectiveness of government. I mean, of course we focus on the trans- parency, that is essential, but we focus on the effectiveness.


We don’t know yet what criteria you use to choose the governments you work with. I think there is a very interesting choice with the countries that you are in at the moment. Apart from being post- conflict, the choice of Sierra Leone is interesting due to the history between Britain and Sierra Leone during that country’s civil war. People may be scep- tical about your current initiatives in the country and be less enthusiastic there. Is that the case? Well, you always get people who are scepti- cal but I would say on the whole, in each of the three countries the initiatives have been really well received because we’re helping the presidents make the changes they want to make and that’s the key to it, because that’s what is often needed. For example, in Rwanda we helped with slimming down the whole set of differ- ent bodies that worked to attract private sector investment, we put them into one body which was the Rwanda Development Board. Te staff there now are very smart, very good, very geared up to getting the investment. In Sierra Leone, the president rightly


decided that his focus was to get the [elec- tricity] lights on in the capital, Freetown, by getting the Bambuna power project working properly. Tat was the first thing he wanted to do and we therefore gave as- sistance in that. Te main things are done by the coun-


tries themselves but we have an AGI team that lives there, works there. I am really opposed to the kind of fly-in fly-out con- sultancy, I think it’s far better to have a team that’s there and wants to be there.


You said as far back as 2005 that Africa is changing and changing for the bet- ter but following recent events in North Africa – in Tunisia and Egypt, countries whose economies were much more solid


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