Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has joined forces with Africa’s richest man and the Duke of York to spearhead a project aimed at promoting entrepreneurship on the continent.
Obasanjo told CNBC Africa that his partnership with Aliko Dangote and Prince Andrew Edward is aimed at making Africa “the land of production”. It will be focused on people who are serious about investing, and limiting the risk as well as optimising the reward, he said.
“Government must create a conducive environment for people to want to invest, for people to want to risk their resources in investing, so they can get adequate reward for the challenge, risk and putting themselves on the line, “ said Obasanjo.
He further drilled in on government’s role saying that unless government plays its part then whatever effort implemented by the partnership will yield no results.
Although education is still far from where it is supposed to be, Obasanjo said Nigeria still has a large crop of educated Nigerians. “In fact one of the problems they have is that the education they have is not relevant… If you are going to talk about entrepreneurship you have to talk to people who are sufficiently trained in what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”
People just need the necessary training as most Nigerian people are industrialists, according to Obasanjo.
According to the former president, “corruption and entrepreneurship are strange bedfellows”. A country cannot have corruption and expect entrepreneurship to go well. He said, “Corruption is antithesis to economic development.”
He gave praise to Nigeria's current president, Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to fight against corruption, “He has started well, I hope we will continue to go well and end well in that respect.”
On the issue of oil price woes, Obasanjo said the point here is being missed. What needs to be zoned in on is the wastages and the leakages.
“We have capacity to produce about 3.1 million barrels of oil a day, now we are producing only 1.9 to 2 million. Out of that two million barrels we were producing in the time of [President] Goodluck Jonathan, about half a million were being stolen.”
Obasanjo reflected that if all these aggravating factors were removed, then Nigeria could move forward. “We should also be thinking of diversification as we move one step forward and one step back. A green business must be our main focus.”