Today he is still making music and only recently released his new album. At the same time he never stopped giving Africa, the mistakenly forgotten continent, a voice. Including provocative statements as at the Alpensymposium in Interlaken a few weeks ago.
Mr. Geldof says, Europe and the US are considering Africa to be a case for continuous help and support; media are establishing the image of an infantile foster child who needs help. Why is Europe not noticing the economic opportunities?
Europa is noticing Africa. More than that. The trade volume is extremely high but the terms of trade are not at the favors of Africa.
Now, China is setting footprints in Africa, exploiting and controlling commodities from copper to diamonds. Africa could have and should have the opportunity to do it by itself or – at least – with the support of democracies such as European countries or the US, says Geldof. An he is right. But we should not forget that nowhere is the corruption rate as high as in Africa, scaring off potential investors.
That is leading to the inconvenient question whether the continent is capable of doing so. Personally I think they lack the know-how and the capital basis. This is not particularly their mistake. The society was devastated after decades or centuries of colonization, often followed by decades of devastating civil wars – under the eyes of Europe and America, the self-styled gate keepers of democracy.
That is what Bob Geldof is mainly accusing the European and American hypocrites of: that they are investing money in China and in the Middle East. Regions far away from being democratic. At the same time, they worry about investments in Africa for the continent is not democratic, say corrupt.
What is wrong with European and American investors? Investments lead to economic growth and to a better infrastructure. Africa does not primarily need help. Says Bob Geldof and I think he’s right. Africa needs investments. But especially from my point of view as a business academic, Africa needs also education. According to Bob Geldof, the African elites are not only graduating from international universities, they have also the highest scores in math and science in the world. I realize that the world is ignoring these facts, leaving Africa as a victim instead of looking at it as an economic giant.
Unfortunately, I have to conclude that it takes more than high volumes of traded goods, enormous natural resources and the highest final scores at universities to overcome that long-standing depression of great parts of the African economies. Especially the criticized European countries with their well structured civil societies are not only an example, they are a model for a possible future of the continent.