African countries need to put in place “the correct environment” to attract American investors and other honest business leaders around the world, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Tibor P. Nagy, said on Tuesday.
He did not explicitly use the word corruption, but it was obvious from his remarks that he was talking about corruption driving away honest and transparent investors from Africa.
He said African governments need to put in place a business environment for investors who deal “honestly”, “openly” and “transparently” and not for those who try “to buy their way into contracts and paying off the big men who control licenses and things like that”.
“That’s how we will create jobs, that’s how we will bring prosperity,” he added.
Mr Nagy was responding to a question by TODAY NEWS AFRICA’s Simon Ateba on how the United States intended to counter China’s growing corruption and exploitation in Africafrom Washington, D.C.
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He said he was not blaming African countries for doing business with China because according to him, “when someone knocked on the door to come and do business in Africa, and the African governments opened the door and the Chinese were the only ones standing there, I cannot blame African governments for doing business deals with China”.
But he added: “The solution is twofold. On one hand, I will do everything I can to encourage American businesses to invest in Africa” and on the other hand, African governments need to put in place the right environments, “which are transparent, which give everybody an equal chance at the contract, where if an investor has a business dispute because the junior brother of the landowner shows up and claims that the factory now belongs to him, that both parties receive equal justice. I think everybody understands what I’m talking about there”.
Such environments, he explained are already in some African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Angola “where American businesses cannot wait to invest”.
Mr Nagy was a U.S. diplomat in Africa for just about 22 years and served in eight different countries, one of them twice before he retired and went back to academia for 15 years.
In 2016, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, asked him to come back to Nigeria.