NYF Africa 2013: “We are not beggars,” says Ali Bongo

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The Gabonese president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, speaking on Friday at the 2nd edition of the New York Forum Africa, invited Africans to work for the development of their people in order to create more wealth. Africa is bursting with potential and Africans should feel proud, even if there have been some hiccups, said the Gabonese leader, who asserted: “We are not beggars.”

(By our correspondent in Libreville)

In a tone of defiance and African pride, the Gabonese head of state, Ali Bongo Ondimba, sent a strong message to the West and invited Africans to get to work. “We are not beggars. We do not want to be helped,” he said. For Ali Bongo a new era is opening up for the continent and Africans just need to master the tools, such as good governance and technological and industrial development, for it to take off.

The Gabonese president believes that the local processing of African raw materials will play a strong part in the creation of wealth and in turn reduce unemployment. In the long term this will cement peace and security in Africa, poverty being “the catalyst for insecurity and social instability” in the words of the Chadian president Idriss Déby.

Ali Bongo invited his partners to invest in training young people, believing that the development of the education sector is very important to guarantee a better future for the new generation. He said “the development of skills” must be at the heart of the political agenda of African states.

Speaking of the sub-region, Ali Bongo claimed that it was time to put synergies in place to resolve certain problems together – problems that affect all Central African countries and even Africa as a whole. According to the Gabonese president, Africa should become a player in all the policies of the international community. Ali Bongo also argued for the development of the health sector and of youth enterprise, with young people making up 60% of the African population.

More than 700 economic and political decision-makers, not to mention representatives of the media, took part in the sessions, which end on 16 June. Libreville is expected to result in the signature of several contracts with Chinese, American and European companies willing to lend their support to Gabon’s economic revival.

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