Wallace Fords remarks given to a Development Workshop on Darfur
Wallace Ford, President & COO
GoodWorks International LLC
Development Workshop for Darfur
World Bank, Washington
June 20, 2008
- Sudan, and Darfur in particular, have captured the world’s attention for many years as we agonized with you over the seemingly intractable conflicts in your country.
- While this morning’s news is discouraging, we nevertheless are prepared to hope, with you, that you soon will have an opportunity to become the latest African country to emerge from conflict and turn its attention to development. This conference is a sign of the possibilities for the future.
- I would urge you, however, not to look only to the official development agencies and NGOs for support, but also to the private business sector.
- One of the major lessons the world has learned about development in the last two decades is that governments create the environment in which economic growth can take place, but it is private investment that creates the jobs, and the wealth, that are the sum and substance of development.
- GoodWorks International was founded by former Ambassador Andrew Young in the hope of replicating in Africa his success in the development of the city of Atlanta. A key ingredient in that effort was an open and honest administration that promised security and a transparent, predictable business climate.
- During his eight years as mayor, Ambassador Young claims credit for attracting some $70 billion of investment to the Atlanta region, by creating a welcoming and enabling environment for the private sector.
- Security obviously is the first requirement, since no investment is possible, and no growth will occur, in a zone of conflict. Former US Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill used to say that “capital is a coward: it will flee violence.” A lasting peace therefore is the first requirement for development in Darfur.
- In order to keep the peace and establish a rule of law, security sector reform must then be a focus of any new government. That means a division of labor between the army and a civilian police force, more professional training for both, creation of an effective judicial system, and the like.
- It then will be up to you and your countrymen to create a government that sets clear rules for business, administers them honestly, and provides transparent mechanisms for resolving commercial disputes.
- Once you do that, the world’s investment community will discover Sudan and Darfur as it has discovered South Africa, and Ghana, and Tanzania, and Rwanda. To quote Ambassador Young again, “You can make more money in a growing economy than you can steal in a dying economy.”
- And Sub-Saharan Africa is, in fact, growing! Over the past four years, we have seen an average rate of economic growth in Africa that is higher than the global average, and higher than in Central and Eastern Europe, ASEAN, the Middle East, or Latin America.
- We have seen South Africa’s black middle class grow by 30%. We have seen stock exchanges in Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, and elsewhere taking turns in recording some of the highest annual returns on the planet.
- GoodWorks International has helped Chevron to expand its Nigeria operations into offshore oilfields. We have helped General Electric sign a half billion-dollar electric power contract in Nigeria. We have brought Verizon to Rwanda to help the government create an ICT platform. And we introduced Barrick Gold to Tanzania for what they now say is their most productive gold mine in the world.
- This can be done in Sudan, as well, though the first investors in Sudan are likely to be the members of your own diaspora, since they know the country – and your markets – best.
- The African diaspora and their immediate descendants, in fact, may be Africa’s greatest resource – greater than all the oil and diamonds and gold. In many countries, remittances and investments from the diaspora exceed the inflows from foreign aid – and they are not likely to be ended at the whim of a legislature.
- The African-American community, now about 11% of the total population of the United States, controls enough resources to make it one of the largest “national” economies in the world. Along with its counterparts in Europe and elsewhere, it accounts for a large share of the total foreign exchange receipts of the African continent.
- In addition, the news media over the past year have carried reports on the creation of at least a dozen new investment funds targeted partially or entirely on Africa. We, in fact, are working with equity groups controlling $43 billion of capital.
- Their primary areas of interest are infrastructure, like ports and railroads; mobile phones and other telecommunications technologies; mining; energy; and agri-business. The letter is especially important now with the rise in food prices, but all of these will be of great interest and importance to Sudan.
- The international business community has decided that Africa is one of the final “frontier markets” for investment on the globe. Sudan, with its large land area, huge resources, and talented population, will be a magnet for investment (and not just from the Chinese) when the time is right.
- I urge you to look to the future with energy and optimism, since Darfur, and Sudan, can be the next African success story.