Letting go of oil
Oxford quizzes President Ondimba on everything from elections to elephants.
Gabon can’t wait: that was the message from the country’s President, H.E. Ali Bongo Ondimba, when he visited Saïd Business School on 9 October 2018. The world was alert to the importance of Africa for future prosperity – ‘More people have more at stake on our continent than anywhere else in the world’ – but there were still complex challenges and an urgent need for transformation.
‘I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but what I have is a determination to move Gabon from an ordinary economy vulnerable to external shocks to a fully diversified competitive economy with world class capability in forestry, sustainable mining, energy and new technology,’ he said.
President Ondimba was speaking in conversation with Professor Wale Adebanwi, Director of the Oxford Africa Centre. Together they covered a wide range of topics before the President took questions from members of the student audience.
President Ondimba echoed other African leaders when he spoke of the importance of education and of developing skills and employment. ‘One of the biggest challenges Africa faces is the mismatch of education and skills and opportunities. Until we fix this our economy will remain uncompetitive and social immobility will soar.’
He made a direct appeal to the African students in the room to contribute to the continent’s development, saying that they are building the skills, knowledge, and networks that Africa needs, ‘But you can’t do this in a classroom – you need to stress test your theory in real life and apply your ideas in practise to see what is sustainable ... African leaders need the world’s best and brightest minds applied to our toughest problems; we need to be challenged with fresh thinking and new ideas to break the vicious cycles.’