Founder of Silver Bird Group, Ben Bruce has claimed that Africa has leaders who do not understand ‘basic economic’ policies.
The former Nigerian lawmaker said the failures of leaders have subjected their countries to hardship and weak economic growth.
The Silver Bird boss made the comment at the IATF 2023 Business Road Show in Lagos with the theme, ‘Positioning Nigeria to harness the opportunities at the African Continental Free Trade Area,’ monitored by THE WHISTLER.
The road show aims at creating awareness for Nigerian businesses ahead of the IATF – Intra-African Trade Fair 2023 in Cairo, Egypt between November 9-15, 2023.
Bruce said, “I think one area that we have not addressed is leadership in Africa. I think some of us are subjected to the most incompetent leaders in the world, and these incompetent leaders make it impossible for us to do what we all talked about.
“I don’t support military coups, but if I am to guess, how many of the 54 African leaders can sit here and have an intellectual conversation and understand basic economic principles? If they do, how don’t they sell it to their people? That is the problem.”
He argued that laws should be made to make it mandatory for government officials or representatives who intend to travel abroad to fly national carriers, a move he believes will promote the aviation sector.
He said, “If every African government says to the people, if you fly, fly only your carrier. What happens to the aviation industry? I was going to speak at Harvard University, and they said that for them to pay for my ticket, I must fly an American carrier. If you represent Nigeria at the United Nations, you must fly a Nigerian carrier, and if not, an African carrier. That should be a law for African leaders.”
He lamented the high cost of securing visas to the UK, US and other parts of the globe, saying they are reciprocal gestures as a result of the cost of visas at Nigerian and other African embassies abroad.
According to the entrepreneur, Nigerians and other African travellers are at the receiving end.
Bruce said, “Why do the British and the Americans, charge so much for visas? It is a reciprocal agreement. It is because we charge too much to come to Nigeria. But look at it this way. How many British and Americans and Germans want to come to Nigeria or Africa versus the number of Africans that want to leave? If we drop those visa rates, they have no choice but to drop theirs.
“The reason why we charge so much for visas is because we do not send money to our embassies for upkeep. So, they collect the $50 and $100 to stay alive. So, because they want to stay alive in the countries, we sent them to suffer, we millions of Nigerians pay a hundred times more to go to those countries. These are the serious things we should look out for. Maybe if we conduct an IQ test for our leaders, that could help.