West Africa Times | Serving The Community Since 2001 | Page 15

Africa Is Enslaved In Debt. Black Lives Should All Matter, Whether In...

exorbitant interest rates. Debt has historically been weaponised by richer Western countries and organisations to hold sub-Saharan countries to ransom, often to the detriment of their citizens. Debt in the region sits at a massive 53% of GDP, prompting concerns over whether the region is in the depths of another debt crisis. External and foreign currency-denominated debt accounts for 60% of total debt on average, highlighting the stranglehold that foreign influence has on the continent. Take, for instance, Tanzania, a poor nation in East Africa, whose present value of external debt stands at $11 billion (€9.7 billion). When the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) were negotiating 

 massive debt relief for the country, they made it conditional on the privatisation of Dar es Salaam’s water system. City Water, the British and German-led consortium who won the contract, then severely reduced water access to some of the world’s poorest people. Those who see lending to developing countries as a moral good must realise that often it is anything but. While borrowing to impoverished countries tends to promote economic growth, it does nothing to reduce poverty or inequality in many of these places. The system of lending must be radically overhauled and regulated to prevent the Western manipulation that holds many African countries over a barrel. Growing up as an Asian in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, I was acutely aware of the suffering of Black Africans. So, when I see African protests in support of African

American causes, my immediate thought is that this energy should also be directed towards African ones. This refocusing appears to be under way. South African demonstrators also paid homage to Collins Khosa, a South African man who was allegedly beaten to death by soldiers for breaching coronavirus lockdown restrictions in April. It is impossible to create racial justice on a foundation of economic injustice. That is as true in Minneapolis as it is in Mombasa. While apartheid and slavery are formally a thing of the past, the legacy of these horrific structures has left many African citizens as slaves in all but name. In honouring George Floyd’s memory, we must remember that all black lives matter.

Mukhtar Karim is the CEO of the Lady Fatemah Trust 

that you believe and feel passionate about a dream. What is your definition of an entrepreneur? I n m y v i e w, entrepreneurs are people with dreams. They believe in something, are willing to own up to responsibilities and create results.

 An entrepreneur might say that they will build a plane that can fly.

 Other people would say they'd believe that only once they see it flying. The difference between an entrepreneur and someone that's not is one needs to see the results before believing, while the other one has a dream and creates the results.

 Why is supporting entrepreneurship especially in times of crises? Entrepreneurship has always been important. It's just that

the pandemic has given rise to extraordinary circumstances. I've always believed that people have two arms for a reason: One arm is for building your business, dream, family, children and wealth, while the other is for helping others – your friends, business partners, community, country, people and the world. In a speech I made at a UN fundraiser for tsunami response in 2005, I asked the audience – including some national leaders in attendance – to imagine the human collective as a person's body. If any part of the

body is hit by a virus, and if it's ignored, it will sooner or later affect the entire body. That metaphor was a thought that came to mind while meditating. I couldn't have imagined that mankind today would face a devastating pandemic. We are all learning. At a time like this one, it's meaningless to keep fighting, blaming and undermining one another. Only when every cell and organ works together to solve the issue would the body be healthy.

To learn more about the Africa’s Business Heroes Competition and to apply, visit africabusinessheroes. org.

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Jet Li on Supporting African Entreprenuers

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