Sierra Leonean business magnate, investor and philanthropist Mr. Gibril Santigie Moseray Fadika was appointed as the first Goodwill Ambassador and Business Ambassador for the Commonwealth Africa Initiative at the Commonwealth Africa Summit held in London, United Kingdom, on the 16th March 2016. The summit brought together a wide range of world leaders and high profile people from across the 53 Commonwealth countries. Presidents, former presidents, ministers, high commissioners, members of parliament, policy-makers, representatives of the private sector, civil society, diaspora organisations, youth groups, Commonwealth agencies, academia, celebrities and the media attended thesummit.
|Super Moseray Fadika
Former President of Nigeria, H.E. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the new Co-chair of the Commonwealth Africa Initiative, part of the New Commonwealth Programme, alongside Dr. Caroline Harper OBE and Baroness Flather announced the Goodwill Ambassador appointment, underlining that Ambassador Fadika, with his iconic status and outstanding leadership virtues and commitment to Africa’s development will be a critical voice for the Commonwealth Africa Initiative, in advancing Africa’s agenda in the Commonwealth and globally. Ambassador Fadika was also presented with an international award for outstanding leadership and service to the people of Africa.
President Obasanjo stressed that Ambassador Fadika will be a champion for the Commonwealth Africa Initiative, in promoting peace and development in the region. In his role as Goodwill Ambassador and Business Ambassador for Trade, Investment, Business and Charitable Work of theCommonwealth Africa Initiative, Ambassador Fadika’s engagement will contribute significantly to attracting investment and mobilising resources towards the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ambassador Fadika’s knowledge, leadership skills and dedication to Africa’s development will play a pivotal role in opening markets, increasing trade and encouraging investment. Ambassador Fadika will contribute to government-to-government engagement with international partners and the private sector. He will also engage in the work of eradicating extreme poverty for people in the Commonwealth by creating jobs, investing in education, health, housing and other sectors.
’’It is indeed a historic moment for me. I consider it a blessing to have this golden opportunity to champion the cause of Africa at regional and international level, promoting business as well as engaging and empowering poor people including women and youth, working alongside other eminent Commonwealth leaders. We must eradicate poverty. We are born poor, but we must not die poor”, said Ambassador Fadika.
Before the award ceremony, Ambassador Fadika delivered a keynote address on the theme “Shared Prosperity: Mutual Security” at the Commonwealth Africa Summit held at the prestigious Tag Hotel in Buckingham Gate in London, United Kingdom, from the 14th to 16th March 2016. The summit brought together government and business leaders from various parts of the Commonwealth to discuss various topics ranging from trade and investment, entrepreneurship, leadership, counterterrorism, security, and economic development in Africa. In his keynote address, Ambassador Fadika said: “My country, Sierra Leone experienced a major crisis due to the impact of the Ebola epidemic, and the associated damage to communities and livelihoods. The economy was hit the hardest, with business closures and rising unemployment further devastating a country that had not too long emerged from a decade of civil conflict.
Our business was seriously affected. As co-founder and Executive Chairman, I was greatly involved in the work of African Minerals Limited, a minerals exploration, development and mining company with significant interests in Sierra Leone, which was forced into administration due to the Ebola crisis. We worked very hard to rescue the mining sector and brought in new investments. We survived! Now we have Shandong Steel SL Ltd, Pan African Minerals Ltd and we are working across 16 countries in Africa. We appreciate the support provided and are grateful to the Commonwealth, the international community and my fellow Sierra Leoneans in tackling the Ebola virus. Together, we defeated Ebola’’.
Speaking at the summit, Ambassador Fadika emphasised his commitment to uniting and empowering people across Africa and to being a champion to advance business, trade and investment in Africa and across the Commonwealth. He underlined the importance of eradicating extreme poverty and helping poor peopleworktheir way out of poverty.
The summit began with a wreath laying ceremony at the Memorial Gate where Ambassador Fadika, for the first time in history laid a wreath on behalf of Sierra Leone, in honour of the dead of the 2nd World war.
Ambassador Fadika also attended the Commonwealth Day Service at the Westminster Abbey on the 14th of March 2016, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and The Duke of York. The ceremony also attracted Dr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta and the new Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth, H.E. Kamalesh Sharma, outgoing Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, H.E. Baroness Scotland, incoming Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, H.E. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, Hon. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and a host of other world leaders.
The Queen’s annual Commonwealth Day message formed part of theprogrammeat the Westminster Abbey and in it, she said: “Today, and in the year ahead, the theme ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’ is an inspiration for us all. Let us give it practical effect by supporting those in need and those who feel excluded in all walks of life. By doing so, we will continue to build a truly representative Commonwealth community.”
Ambassador Fadika also joined the Commonwealth Secretary General, H.E. Kamalesh Sharma at the Commonwealth Young Leaders Award Ceremony, held at Marlborough House, the Secretariat of the Commonwealth. Ambassador Fadika expressed his interest in supporting and investing in young people in the Commonwealth, through the Commonwealth Youth programme.
Ambassador Fadika came from a humble background: he was born in poverty and struggled to pay his school fees. Despite these difficulties and challenges, Ambassador Fadika never lost hope and continued in his efforts to seek a better life. He graduated from university and went on to become a magnate in the business sector. Ambassador Fadika is today one of the leading entrepreneurs in Africa and he is regarded as Africa’s success story.
Ambassador Fadika is the Vice Chairman of Shandong Steel SL Ltd and Executive Director of Pan Africa Minerals Ltd, with a cumulative investment portfolio of over 3.1 billion United States dollars in Africa. With promising investments in iron ore, oil and gas and related resources in nine West African countries among them Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Niger, Ambassador Fadika has helped provide jobs for over 10,000 youths in the region. Ambassador Fadika has also set up the Moseray Fadika Trust, providing jobs for thousands of young people, offering educational scholarships, building schools, providing housing support etc. Ambassador Fadika is committed to promoting better governance in Africa and strengthening the capacities of people and communities to achieve a fairer and a more peaceful world.
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Keynote Address by Ambassador Gibril Santigie Moseraay Fadika at the Commonwealth Africa Summit, held in London, UK from the 14th – 16th March 2016
· H.E Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria
· Honourable Ministers
· Members of Parliament
· Representative from the Commonwealth
· Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Greetings from Sierra Leone! It gives me great pleasure to be present at this summit today and to address you all. I wish to express my gratitude to the Commonwealth and the organisers for hosting the Commonwealth Africa Summit and for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation.
We are meeting at a momentous time – just after the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Commonwealth is at a critical moment in its history, with the appointment of a new Secretary General—this time a dynamic female in the person of Baroness Scotland. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Baroness Scotland on her appointment, which I am certain inspires a new dawn for the commonwealth. We need to grasp this moment with both hands!
Excellencies, delegates, Africa’s shared prosperity and mutual security lies in our hands and collective efforts. I am very pleased to be here today representing the business side of the house, and to explore Africa’s role in the Commonwealth, taking into account the dynamic changes that are taking place at regional and international levels.
According to the 2015 UN World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) Report, the global economy is expected to grow marginally over the next two years. The average growth forecast for 2015 was 3.1% and 3.3% for 2016, compared to the growth estimate of 2.6% realised in 2014.
Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth was expected in 2015 to strengthen to 4.5%, and 5% in 2016 after subdued expansion in 2013 (3.5%) and 2014 (3.9%). The 2014 growth was about one percentage point lower than predicted by the African Economic Outlook (AEO), as the global economy remained weaker and some African countries saw severe domestic problems of various natures. But the world economy is improving and if the African Economic Outlook’s 2015 predictions were right, Africa will soon be closing in on the impressive growth levels seen before the 2008/09 global economic crisis.
West Africa achieved relatively high growth of 6% in 2014 despite its battle with the Ebola virus. My country, Sierra Leone experienced a major crisis due to the impact of the Ebola epidemic, and the associated damage to communities and livelihoods. The Economy was hit the hardest, with business closures and rising unemployment further devastating a country that had not too long emerged from a decade of civil conflict. Our business was seriously affected. As co-founder and Executive Chairman, I was greatly involved in the work of African Minerals Limited, but the company was forced into administration due to the Ebola crisis. We worked very hard to rescue the mining sector and brought in new investments. We survived! Now we have Shandong Steel SL Ltd, and Pan African Minerals Ltd, working in 16 countries in Africa. We appreciate the support provided and are grateful to the Commonwealth, the international community and patriotic Sierra Leoneans in tackling the Ebola Virus. Together, we defeated Ebola!
Another significant challenge faced by Africa is extreme poverty. Youth unemployment is a major challenge in many countries. African countries need to create millions of jobs over the next decade to absorb people entering the labour market. With almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world. And it keeps growing rapidly. Although many jobs have been created, there have not been enough job opportunities to accommodate the number of young people in search of work. This is a major threat to our efforts to secure shared prosperity and mutual security.
Africa’s population is rising the fastest. The pressure to provide decent work opportunities for new labour market entrants will be particularly acute in Africa. Promoting more and better jobs for inclusive growth, the rural economy, formalising the informal economy and addressing the needs of African economies is crucial for Africa’s development. Climate change and deplorable environmental practices must be top on our agenda and we must all come together to tackle climate change and protect the environment for generations yet unborn. Energy for Africa is crucial. Without energy, African countries will find it difficult to compete with the restof the world.
The African Economic Outlook finds the continent poised to resume its medium-term growth trend. However, looking beyond 2016, a number of internal and external factors may alter the context in which African policy-makers seek to accelerate growth and deepen structural transformation. African economies have to take those changes into account and adapt their development strategies accordingly.
We should emulate best practices from developed nations and adapt them to our local context. What can we learn from China/Asia and other developed nations?
· Promote and protect African businesses, and attract foreign investments.
· Invest in technology. Technology is the only way forward.
· Harness and put our natural resources into good use.
· A visionary leadership, disciplined economic management and a radical economic transformation agenda.
· Support rural cooperatives, agriculture and small businesses.
· Invest in energy, especially solar energy, as China is doing.
· Invest in education, health, and infrastructural development.
· Empower girls and women, and createjobs for youth.
· Advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
· Tackle corruption, promote accountability and participatory governance.
In a rapidly changing world, there is a need for us to create better opportunities for people in the Commonwealth, so we can contribute fully to sustainable social and economic development across the region. Investing in young people, ensuring decent employment, education and health prospects, promoting democracy, and creating an enabling environment where creativity, leadership and energy can flourish, will invariably lay the foundations for a more prosperous, healthier and stronger Africa.
I am therefore pleased to be part of the Commonwealth Africa initiative which will play an important global leadership role in advancing the African agenda. The Commonwealth Africa Summit is an important platform for Africa to engage, inspire and mobilise resources and partnerships for Africa’s development.
We must work together to end conflicts in Africa, and dedicate our efforts in promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law for a better Africa. Let’s use this opportunity to create a unified and influential voice, to champion the African agenda across all policy areas, within our Commonwealth, national governments, and globally.
Africa’s unique needs, and our broad ability to contribute, should be integrated and valued in development and democratic processes at global level. Let’s walk away with a clear understanding that Africa is moving forward. We should all champion this development and create a better world. Business and political leaders have a critical role in building a stable and sustainable future that will benefit all of us. Africa needs honest and dynamic leaders that can provide insightful directions. We can do better than China!
I am therefore hopeful that this meeting will, amongst other things, result in a clarion call for a stronger recognition of the important role of Africa as an agent of change, andas a driver of development in the Commonwealth. We must commit unequivocally to investing in the Commonwealth Africa Initiative and placing Africa at the centre of sustainable and inclusive development, thus harnessing our creativity, leadership and social capital towards the progress and resilience of Commonwealth countries, and a more democratic and prosperous Commonwealth.
We are born poor, but we must not die poor.
I thank you all!
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.