Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola on Friday flagged off the Kuramo Conference Lagos 2012, charging all participants to use it to secure the future of the generation of young Africans who look to the present generation for leadership so that the problems of hunger, famine, poverty and under development on the Continent can be overcome now and not in the distant future.
The Governor who spoke at the Convention Centre of Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island before a gathering of multi-disciplinary experts, professionals, regulators, policy makers and corporate leaders including Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, Director for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, Professor Paul Collier and international economist, Dr Dambisa Moyo, said Kuramo is about the African Renaissance, it is about knowledge, improvement and influence.“Kuramo is also a confluence of ideas to tackle and consider from a unique African perspective, the issues that challenge the Continent globally. Kuramo will continue to provide a platform for public and private sector collaboration to drive international development in Africa and secure a better economic future for ourselves”, he added.
Governor Fashola said Africa stands on the edge of another scramble which has been necessitated by the downturn in the global economy and the gradual decimation of the Commonwealth such that the West has turned its eyes on her direction again.“But this time the scramble is more intense because the West has been joined by the East and the scramble is between the two powers, with Africa in the middle. So, we can choose to turn to the left, or to the right, or to the front”. The Governor said this time around, the rule of engagement must be such that Africa will dictate because she holds the key to the strengthening of the global economy, a fact which must not be forgotten.“More importantly, we must use that knowledge to forge developmental partnerships instead of perpetuating a dependency, based on an expectation of benevolence. We hold the key and we must use it to unlock the door that leads to the vast promise of the endowed Continent”.
“We must no longer hand over the key to others to unlock the door for us. The reason is simple. They will go through the doorway before we do. This time it is incumbent upon us to walk through those doors ahead of our partners or at least side by side”.Governor Fashola explained that Kuramo is about alternative thinking because it takes the view that alternative, innovative ideas are the key to the future noting that Africans must turn normalcy around, stand things on their heads, push back the frontiers and literally rattle the cage to stimulate innovation and pursue creative solutions to global problems. Speaking on the recent declaration of all members of the United Nations Human Rights Council that access to the internet and online freedom of expression is a basic human right, the Governor said internet access in Africa is limited by a far lower penetration rat
e than the rest of the world.He said part of what should preoccupy the mind of participants at Kuramo 2012 is how they can help to shape policy that can bridge internet access gap and others like the policies that encourage the production of the best chocolates from Ivory Coast where some of the best cocoa seeds are sourced.
Others include policies that encourage the production of microchips and electronic accessories from Congo where very large deposits of copper are mined amidst unending conflict and policies that will encourage the production and not the importation of large quantities of malaria drugs and treated nets on the African continent and keep the production jobs there instead of in the West and Asia.Continuing, Governor Fashola challenged the eminent gathering of knowledge experts to come up with policies that would ensure that “a large quantum of Africa’s gas reserves are used to energize and power her to industrial greatness and produce jobs on the continent instead of being exported only for the cash values. Policies that help to bring back and keep a large stock of Africa’s rich human capital at home, instead of those that throw them abroad as displaced immigrants. Policies that for instance encourage new institutional and governance models to transform economic growth into shared opportunities”.