Questioned during the annual conference of the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes (Femise-Malta, 7 to 9 February 2018), Zakaria Fahim, President of Hub Africa (next edition 2 & 3 May 2018), wants to match Euro-Mediterranean funding with ideas of African start-ups.
econostrum.info: How do you see the future of relations between the EuroMed and Africa?
Zakaria Fahim: The most important thing to do is think in a twofold approach: What to do right now while also thinking about the prospects in the next twenty to thirty years. Africa in 2050 will have 2.5 billion inhabitants versus 450 million in Europe.
When you have a neighbor where 40% of the population is under the age of 15, it is either an opportunity or a time bomb. Geography being stubborn, it becomes very important to be aware of the opportunities that exist in Africa. During my road show, I meet a lot of start-ups. It is possible to connect these two worlds: one that has more mature markets and financing and one where disruptive ideas effervesce.
Morocco has already begun this movement. Does Africa really need Europe to develop?
Z.F. : You have to be modest. Today, intra-African trade accounts for 15% of total trade. Morocco will never be able to do anything alone because the stakes are such that, put in perspective with the situation on the continent, we are far from having succeeded. In the list of countries that work the most with Africa one notes the United States, China and then France. Often, its bigger partners work with visions that are so “global” that they can not understand what is happening in Africa. Meanwhile, Europe cannot show lack of concern as to what is happening twelve kilometers from its borders … A beautiful door opens before us. It is up to us to use this paradigm shift, to remain important actors in Africa but acting together. And to do this, we must know how to give time to those who want to move forward and not the other way around. Entrepreneurs often forget that they are farmers more than hunters. I’m growing and I’m waiting for the end of the season to harvest. It is not about shooting and dropping the game. This vision is finished!
“It’s not my neighbor, it’s me”
How to facilitate this?
Z.F. : We have every interest in making Africas communicate. I am administrator of the ENCG Casablanca (note: National School of Commerce and Management), we will for the first time sign agreements with universities in sub-Saharan Africa. This has never been done before. We received sub-Saharans as part of intergovvernmental agreements in the past but were never curious about their abilities even though they represent a real opportunity.
I want it to be natural for our children to think about Africa as their natural space. It’s not my neighbor, it’s me. This appropriation is missing today.
It is not possible to be in a common area where some eat caviar and others only eat every other meal. One day or another, they come to see what is happening at home. The common sense is to say: what interest do I have today for these people to feel good? and how can I preserve my future?