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D+C  e-Paper  December 2015 31 Mo Ibrahim made a great contribution to Africa’s development, and we are proud to have supported him. But doesn’t Africa need strong corporate players of its own to drive development and contribute to defining global rules? Yes, it does, but there are still strong African corpora- tions in the telecom industry. One example is Safari- com from Kenya. This company introduced M-Pesa, the system that facilitates money transfers via mobile phones even for people who have no bank account. This innovation has a great impact on the entire African continent and must not be underestimated. Safaricom, moreover, shows that appropriate tech- nology can lead to spectacular success. Is there currently any entrepreneur of Mo Ibrahim’s stature? Aliko Dangote from Nigeria is a most impressive entrepreneur. He started as a cement manufacturer and later expanded into other industries. His busi- nesses are active in many African countries. He cer- tainly has the potential to become relevant beyond Africa, but perhaps he has other priorities. He may well want to fully tap Africa’s potential first. Before becoming relevant internationally, a company needs to thrive in its domestic mar- ket, so domestic markets must be big enough. It is no coincidence that we are discussing companies with strong bases in countries like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Many African countries are quite small however, and have only 10 to 20 million people. Has regional integration in supra-national organisations like ECOWAS, the East African Community (EAC) or the Southern African Development Commu- nity (SADC) advanced sufficiently to bridge the gaps? Regional integration certainly helps, but much remains to be done. So far, the volume of inner- African trade is quite small. Inter-continental trade still has a greater impact on many economies. There is a lack of cross-border infrastructure and logistical options. For example, the capital cities of two neigh- bouring countries tend not to be linked by a motor- way. The railway infrastructure is inadequate too. We do see progress however. Consider the modernisation of the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway for instance, or the railway project that will link Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Cross-border power grids must be built as well. To create big regional markets, it is not enough to discontinue tariffs. Big regional markets, however, would contribute to letting African companies grow big enough to eventually play a role at the global level? Yes, they would. Africa is a focus region for us as a development finance institution. We think it makes sense to promote African champions in specific industries, and we contribute to that cause by differ- ent means. We give companies long-term loans, we become shareholders, and we serve as consultants, for example on corporate governance. Many African companies do not live up to international standards yet. To improve matters, their management must assume responsibility. We are pleased to see that a growing number of African corporate leaders want to rise to challenges. They are the partners we need for effective cooperation, and we want to contribute to making their businesses succeed. Josef Boven is an Africa expert at DEG (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft), the KfW subsidiary that promotes the private sector in developing countries and emerging markets. [email protected] Mo Ibrahim proved that mobile telecom businesses are viable in Africa. Bothma/picture-alliance/dpa