Building the future inspired by the past

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The present times seem to be monopolized by the COVID-19 issue, so much so the question arises if a return to normal life is still on the cards. Being swamped by official messages, expert opinions not to be disputed and a multitude of press articles on the evolution of the pandemic, we’d certainly doubt it!

Yet other issues – political, economic, or social – haven’t entirely disappeared from the face of the earth. True, they’ve been temporarily eclipsed by the Corona effect, but they are bound to resurface all of a sudden and surprise us in many ways. Just think of how the daily realities for our partners within the ACP have been affected. They form no exception to the rule. In the medium term ignoring these other issues would be at our peril, for today’s peripherals are tomorrow’s strategic options. As far as Africa is concerned, a common past of more than one century has linked our destinies – whether we like it or not – and only together will we best equipped to face the challenges of the future.

Information therefore is today more than ever essential, and our Chamber, omnipresent in the region we service, is to that end an indispensable source for our members. But there is more: to (nearly) paraphrase Jean-Paul Delfino “to manage is to foresee”, and to foresee necessarily means to devise ideas and plans before others.

So here is a case in point this magazine looks at, about two countries in particular: Ethiopia and Rwanda. Each in its own way these countries are worth examining. The two nations, so different in past, today contemplate a constructive future based on the setbacks they’ve suffered and the successes they’ve achieved, and are building as of now the Africa of tomorrow.

c Ethiopia resembles the south of China thirty odd years ago. Cheap manual labour from rural areas is readily available, and stimulated by the authorities the manufacturing industry such as the textile industry thrives. The country is recognised as the new workshop of the world and a number of Chinese companies have already delocalised parts of their production to the region.

c Rwanda on the other hand is ranked among the top African countries with a sound economic health, scores low on the scale of corruption and has a good reputation in terms of political stability.
As such it is attractive to foreign investors. Proof of which: one of the biggest car manufacturing companies in the world has opened up an assembly plant in Kigali.

Obviously, these are just a few examples and it is clear that other ACP regions equally prepare the future inspired by their past.
For economic operators such as ourselves it is important to detect these changes and certainly to act upon them by seizing the opportunities they represent before others do. And even if entering these markets remains challenging, let us not forget the axioma stating that enterprise implies acceptance of risks. So, if the future belongs to those who believe in their dreams, let’s stick our heads in the clouds with our feet securely on the ground and deliver us from the zero risk tyranny!

 

Guy BULTYNCK
Chairman CBL-ACP