Don’t give undue advantage to foreign businesses – Kofi Annan

Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA

Accra, Aug 11, GNA – Dr
Kofi Annan, a Former United Nations Secretary-General, has advised African
governments and state institutions not to give undue advantage to foreign
businesses at the expense of indigenous businesses.

He said they should
create an enabling environment that would allowed the homegrown businesses to
thrive, saying; “government cannot do it alone”.

According to him, if
the local businesses had incentives, it would encourage foreign businesses to
invest in the national economies of African countries.

“Businesses include
all the small and medium-scale enterprises because they have important roles to
play… they are the ones that create a lot of jobs and they should be
supported,” he advised.

Dr Annan said this
when he interacted and answered questions from a section of the public at a
fundraising ceremony organised by the Mfantsipim Old Boys Associations (MOBA)
in Accra.

He had earlier made a
presentation on, “Leadership and Public Service”.

The Former UN
Secretary-General said businesses had influence on the communities they
operated in, as well as over politicians and so they should use their influence
to improve the lot of the people.

“In the private sector
you have managerial autonomy which people don’t have in the public sector, “you
can hire and fire” with very clear vision and mandate,” he explained, saying;
“businesses cannot make profit or succeed in a failed society”.

He said for most
business, it was the maximisation of profit for their shareholders and,
therefore, often reminded them about the Global Compact, which was established
in 1999 that compelled businesses to have responsibility towards the society.

“In January 2008 when
I went to Kenya, I met the business community, media owners, youth and
religious groups encouraging them to be part of the peace process.

“When I met with them,
they told me… we in this room represent 85 per cent of the Kenyan economy… and
they ranged from general motors and all sorts of smaller businesses…and so I told
them…this is an influence… what have you done to influence society?

“So I asked them…have
you engaged the government to see what can be done to help development?…they
said; “We don’t talk to the government,” he said.

Dr Annan said by the
time he left Kenya the business community had arranged with the government and
had agreed to meet quarterly to discuss how they could put their efforts
together to develop society.

The astute
international diplomat said in spite of some challenges with some African
countries’ democratic credentials, he had hope in the younger generations.

“With the general wind
of change blowing, the youth are determined to make a change and contribute to
the progress of the society”.

He, therefore, advised
the younger ones not to rush in life.

“I often pleaded for
generational change to have new leadership and some have worked out very well
whilst others are in a hurry to make money and sometimes they become as corrupt
as the old ones we complained about,” he noted.

Dr Annan said he had
hope in the younger generation and urged them to use the resources wisely to
accelerate development.

The MOBA annual event
known as the “MOBA Ebusuapanyin’s Lunch” is aimed at creating a platform for
discourse on issues of national interest.


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