Lyeo Woon-Ki, Korean Ambassador to Ghana, who gave the advice recently, was speaking at the 2nd Business Entrepreneurs Breakfast Summit hosted by KRIF Ghana, Action Chapel and Energy Bank in Accra.
According to Mr Lyeo, the dependence of African economies on foreign nations has to be tackled.
“We cannot refuse the history of colonialism done by European imperialism in the past which has dominated and regulated the way of life and thinking of people in African continent for several hundreds of years. Even after their independence, most of the economies have been closely and structurally connected to their formal colonial masters.
“This kind of legacy in the past is still hanging around today…making them live on foreign assistance.”
Low intra-country trade
The Korean ambassador said intra-trade and exchange of visits on the African continent were respectively lower than inter-continental trade and visits made with Europe.
“Most of the flights are connected through European capitals to reach African capitals. Some limited intra-continent flights are there, but very unstable and unpredictable. Needless to talk about the poor results. More of the financial transactions are done through European capitals to bring this process and mechanisms. To bring this situation under control, African countries have to pay the price unnecessary. However this structural problem cannot be changed in the short period because there are many different elements involved.”
The ambassador said African countries could resolve such problems readily by diversifying cooperation partners and increasing the interaction and trade with East Asia which has experience to overcome such challenges.
Lack of infrastructure
“Secondly, I want to talk about the lack of infrastructure. Everyone knows that there are lots of constructions ongoing around us – roads, ports, airports, power plants, etc. But still we don’t have enough infrastructure to support private enterprises and economic activities. Governments of Africa have to continue to invest in various infrastructure projects.”
Thirdly, Africa does not have enough skills and labour force which are essential to boost manufacturing industry. This is one of the important reasons why foreign companies are hesitant to come to the African countries even though they can employ the low wage volumes.
African governments need to invest more resources in training and educating young people in skills and technology.
Corruption and bureaucracy
“I will like to suggest that the fight against corruption and bureaucracy of government officials. In the developing countries where the private sector is so weak, the role of governments and government officials is critical to national development as a whole.
Good governance can only be possible through good government officials harnessed with responsibility and dedication to the public and nation. For this, they should recruit and supervise them strictly and also train them properly,” he stated, adding that African governments were too much politicized.
“Africa is still unknown and strange environment to Korean private sector. Although there are already some Korean businesses operating successfully in Ghana, many Korean businesses are not confident to take Ghanaian partners.”