Nigeria Can Transform Economy By Boosting Competition In Consumer Markets – Adetunji | Independent Newspapers Limited
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CEO Interview

Nigeria Can Transform Economy By Boosting Competition In Consumer Markets – Adetunji

Posted: Oct 12, 2016 at 9:52 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
*Africa Nations Have All It Takes To Be Self – Sustainable
Chief Tunde Adetunji, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Africa Heritage Foundation and president of the Africa World Museum and Center in Atlanta Georgia, USA, in this encounter with Sylvester Enoghase, spoke on how  Federal Government could  tackle recession by initiating policies that would reduce the prices of basic staple food items by just 10% as well as by tackling cartels and improving regulations that limit competition in food markets. Excerpts:
What is the idea behind this foundation?
The idea behind this foundation is to promote Africa in its entity and to show the world what Africa in reality stands for as a continent of possibilities. It is a continent with great future. But there is a misconception, misinformation of Africa values and potentials and the world did not know especially in Diaspora and the America did not know what Africa really stands for.
And the essence of this project is to make the Africa nations in the Diaspora, in the USA, to develop opportunities and new ventures in business, technology, education, research and culture for the mutual benefits of each other.
 And our vision is of an African continent that realises and enjoys the benefits of its extended mineral and natural resources.  An Africa where poverty will be a thing of the past. We believe we can achieve this community by community – country by country. Hence our vision is for the African continent.
Our strategy is to work with the worst affected communities through provision of water sanitation and health, education, jobs opportunities from our carefully coordinated surveys and we hope to establish projects that carry out the necessary work while we progress onto other areas within the country.
Our core projects areas are sustainable agricultural projects that would help to increase food security and income for peasant families. Many of these projects benefit women, who bear more of the burden in the agricultural economy.
We are also working on Community Micro-credit where members of a community organization band together to form collective micro-enterprise funds to provide one another with much needed capital to start self-sustaining community projects.
We also work on capacity building alongside our routine technical and management training programs, and we provide organizational and leadership development training programs for peasant organizations
When did you conceive these laudable projects to transform Africa as a continent?
The efforts of bringing the Africans in Diaspora, including Continental Africans and Africans in America started  by  our   fore-fathers  is now  witnessing  a  rebirth,   reawakening   and   rejuvenation, championed  by  the   Africa  heritage  foundation since  1996  Olympics.
We Africans have survived through tribalism, colonialism, slavery, cold war politicking, poverty, racial discrimination and environmental degradation and the result thereof. Here we are not only survivors, but also as thrivers, not only as victims but also as victors. We are people of stories. Through it all, we have accumulated stories to tell to our children. We have lessons to teach. We have songs to sing. We have legacies to pass on. We have reason to celebrate life. We have a reason to worship. We have a reason to love.
What can you suggest to Africa leaders as Blue Print that would industrialise the Continent?
Well, I think with the world development now and the world consciousness, it is imperative for Africa leaders to see how they can begin sustainable investment in Africa that would enhance development. Most of the issues and projects that have been done as far back as the colonial days do not have the longevity, the sustainability and that is why Africa economy is still in bondage.
And with the trend of what is going on in the world, it is quite important for Africa leaders to see how they can carve a niche for the Africa economy. This is exactly what China did because when they were developing their economy, the World did not know that they were coming up with a blue print that would ravel the whole world and that is what made them world power.
If African leaders are able to see the vision with which they can carve a niche for the African economy and make Africa, a re-branded continent with a flourishing economy no matter the situation in the world.
This is because there are too much potential in Africa that could sustain the longevity of the economy of Africa and make the continent self sustainable.
Are you saying the sustainability of Africa could be achieved in a short run without the leaders fully committed to the African project?
Well, with the opportunities that Africa has gotten in terms of markets, raw materials, manpower and the attention of the world to Africa, it is possible, but it needs a lot of serious thinking, so many sacrifices. There must be credibility and maintaining the credibility with world power and also the leaders must discipline themselves in such a way that they would be able to wipe off corruption.
Africa leaders must be able to build potentials in a way that would give an opportunity to see better what is there for them for the future. The leaders need to build confidence and trust, identify opportunities, establish partnership and build a strong networking between Africa and the world.
It could be done in a short run, but it depends on how serious Africa leaders are and how they are able to see the future of Africa.
How long has these projects started?
These projects started here in the USA as far back as 1996. We started with the educational and orientation of the people of Africa and what we did was to educate the Diaspora especially in the USA on what Africa really stands for because majority of the people did not really know what Africa means in terms of values, potentials which the world is envious of and its market that is not saturated.
Markets in Europe, Asia and America are saturated but Africa is the only continent that has the wherewithal in market, people and the employment opportunities that can satisfy the world’s economy.
And when we started to educate the community, the schools, they began to realise that most of the news said against Africa are not correct and they therefore felt since we believe in Africa, we could do something better for the continent. 
And from there, we zero in to introduce economy to develop and also create awareness for the people here in the USA and that took 10 years and after that we designed the U.S.A. –Africa Economy Conference and Expo. We took the campaign to Adis Ababa, in Ethiopia, to sell the concept to the Africa Union (AU) and they saw that it was very valid, gave their support and came over to endorse the project.
And from there, the project has generated a lot of consciousness on business opportunity and investment in Africa and here in Diaspora.
We got involved in the educational promotion to ensure that most of the schools promote Africa curriculum of education in language, cultural values, discipline and they have embraced the idea.
And now, we have gone into the community development on the values of Africa people and how will the world embrace Africa civilization and we now decide the projects that will maintain the longevity of Africa here in the USA and that is the creation of Africa village.
The Africa village is a concept that would promote the image of all the 54 African nations.
We believe there must be proper orientation about Africa here in the USA and then we asked for about 504 acres of land whereby we create 10 acres of land for each country to promote the ideals and values of their country. 
Nigeria, for instance, will showcase the country’s cultural and economic values so would all the countries in Africa.
The AU has agreed that it is a good initiative to transform the continent with about $25billion project that would create over 100,000 jobs opportunities for both Africa nations and in Diaspora.
We carry out conferences every year and this year’s conference is taking place in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital territory.
Some of the organisations that have benefited from the projects are; Delta Airlines that now flies directly to some countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Egypt, Congo and South Africa in Africa. It is now good night America and good morning in Africa.
Could you please suggest some policies to the Government of Nigeria on how the economy can be transformed within a shortest time?
Nigeria economy can be transformed within a shortest time if there is self discipline, and through boosting competition in consumer markets.
This can be done by Government initiating policies that would reduce the prices of basic food staples by just 10%, as a result of tackling cartels and improving regulations that limit competition in food markets.
The Government needs to introduce some fundamental market reforms to increase competition in key sectors that are critical for competitiveness and economic growth. For example, if countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia and others were to reform their professional services markets, this could generate nearly half a percentage point in GDP growth from industries which use these services intensively.
Nigeria has all it takes to be the most developed nation of the world, but we need self discipline, because if we can discipline ourselves and take priority in the longevity of our future, it will be better for us all.
I am saying discipline in the areas of wiping off corruption and also encouraging initiatives, developing ideas and embracing people with good knowledge.
Nigeria, with self discipline, can emerge. This is because everything that is not working in Nigeria is manmade. There is urgent need for us to put our status quo together for us to transform the economy and meet up the international standard.
The Vision 2020 and the 7-point Agenda would work if there is self discipline because we have intellectual experts and investors both home and in Diaspora that can make the economy work in the shortest time.
Can you give a highlight on how the Niger Delta region, being one of the most volatile regions in the country, could be transformed?
Well, that is a good question. I want to give an example of USA. Oil is found in the state of Texas and the immunity for the oil utilization is there.
The Niger Delta region is where oil is found and most of the developmental projects in oil producing areas are suppose to be carried out in the region because the region will never thrive for any other thing except the production of oil.
There is no way agriculture can thrive in oil producing areas because of pollution of the water and land and the effect of the oil in the area.
I believe that industrialization should be one of the core and also there are petrochemical industries with defined research institute of petroleum. I traveled to Texas, and I saw a petroleum museum where they dramatise and demonstrate anything that relates to oil exploration.
I believe that if such is established in the oil producing region of Niger Delta in Nigeria, jobs opportunities would be provided to millions of Nigeria. Then, there are certain things, if you look at Dubai of today, they use their oil money to transform their economy into a tourist attraction economy because there is nothing you look for in Dubai that you cannot get. I believe we can create Dubai of Africa in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria with our oil revenue. 
I believe that the earlier that our leaders start working in line with drastic development of the Niger Delta region, because there is a challenge from the region right now, Ghana our neigbouring country has just discovered oil, Equatorial Guinea has discovered oil, you will discover that the attention of the presence of oil in Nigeria, and because there is oil in other neigbouring  countries, there are certain areas we need to focus our attention on to drive the economy so as to meet up with the vision 2020 dream.
Brazil is now producing ethanol using sugar cane and thereby deriving alternate oil from sugar cane. If I may ask, where is our groundnut pyramid, the cotton, is cocoa and palm oil noted for the four regions of Nigeria?
I believe that if all these raw materials are focused attention on by the Federal Government, the demands for oil revenue will be less and that can give autonomy to the Niger Delta region where oil exploration is being carried out and most importantly, there will be enough money to be used in the development of the region as well as creating more jobs opportunities for Nigerians.
Could you please share with us some of your success stories?
The Africa Heritage  Foundation  has over  the   years   championed the  campaign and  promotion of  the  city  of Atlanta  as the epicenter  and  the  gateway  of   Africa  business  potentials  and  opportunities  to  USA.
The Foundation designed and   established numerous projects on education, culture, tourism, information technology, health and preventive initiatives and economic development since the centennial Olympics to bridge the gap and build the bridge between Africa and  USA.
These  projects  namely: USAFRICA  Economic   conference  and  expo is usually held in  September; Africa  Day Celebration Parade  of   54  nations is usually held  in  May ; A world  tour  and  Celebrate Africa  Exhibition /Taste  of  Africa  usually held in   July  and   February during Black History Month; Africa  Horizon  projects Focusing primarily on professionalism, human resources and capacity building and educational programs usually take  place   in   November.  
We are involved in live,  and  recorded broadcast  of  events, individuals and  corporate interview to  promote  international   relations, networking, tourism and business potentials and   giving back to   the  community on the   Africa  Heritage   Diaspora  Radio  and   T.V.
We were into the  promotion  of  sports for   global   attention especially  the   FIFA world  cup and  the  Olympics  of  which Brazil world  cup 2014 and  Rio 2016 was  our  priority, for global  promotion. 
The   city of   Atlanta   has   benefited   tremendously from these projects. It is  our  priority  to   spread  this  initiative  to  benefit  various community  and as  well use the  success  to  galvanise support  for countries in Africa.
The mission and objective  of The Africa   Heritage Foundation is in promoting the ideal and values of Africa nations  within the Diaspora.
How do you think the issue of corrupt practices can be easily thrashed out in Nigeria?
Well, I believe that if we believe in the future of our nation, it is not what the country can do for you, but it is what you can do for the country. Any leader that is opportune to lead the people should believe that he or she is there to serve and once he gets the decision right from the beginning, he is going to perform better and he is going to leave a legacy because the idea that everybody gets there, election is not a matter of do or die and if you know that you are going to serve the people, if you do not win this time, somebody else could win.
Look at the example here in the USA, everybody is so conscious of what to do and when the elections come, if A does not win and B wins, the next thing is for A to rally round and support B because they believe in one goal, the unity of their country and because they know they are going there to serve.
This should be the mode of planning for our people at home in Nigeria and it should be our thinking.
And I believe that if we have the patriotism of our country, it is not for ourselves but for the generation yet to come. This is the only way we can sustain the glory of Nigeria. It is a challenge for Nigeria now to see Ghana emerges and what I just said in the beginning because they discipline themselves and they believe in the future of their country. This is the golden advise I believe any person that has the opportunity to lead even at the Local Government Level, even in the community level must be leading by example and giving the notion to the generation yet to come that if you commit any offence while in power, this is the repercussion that would follow and if you do the right thing, this is the legacy that would be left behind.
What do you think Africans can do for the much needed transformation to take place both in the short and long run putting into consideration the current global economic meltdown?
We have identified the key problems in Africa because the continent has a lot of potentials but there is a missing link in most of the areas we have identified as telecommunications, transportation, banking, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, power generation and transmission, health and Medicare, clothing, information technology, culture and tourism, education and construction, entertainment and food.
We have identified these areas as the major core that is setting Africa back. And if we are able to bring the people in Diaspora, experts to now contribute to the development of these core areas, then, I think Africa will be self sustained. And this is exactly what Africa nations need to look into because Africa does not need aid but sustainable development and investment and with this particular concept of focusing investment in Africa and getting the attention of the international community to change their believe on Africa and now see how they can participate equitably in Africa economy, I think Africa will be better and would rise to the zenith so as to be at par with their colleagues.