Straight-talking Sudanese mobile communications billionaire, Dr Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim, lamented the “tremendous lack of governance in the European Union” over the debt crisis at the closing ceremony of the fourth Africa Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) in Tunis on Friday.
Ibrahim, whose foundation supports the AMLF, said that “something interesting” had happened to capitalism because we now have situation where “banks keep profits private and socialize their debt”.
“If the banks didn’t know Greece was bankrupt, who would know? Sometimes you look at Africa with despair, but [compared with Europe] maybe we’re not so bad, actually. Yes, we have Mugabe, but they [Europe] have Berlusconi,” he joked.
He urged over 300 of Africa’s independent media proprietors and leaders at the largest-ever AMLF conference to stand together in the face of intense political and economic pressure.
“The best protection for you is this togetherness. Let us with confidence drive Africa,” he said.
He said that economic pressures on media organisations led to the temptation to write sensational journalism.
Ibrahim said he had once asked a group of journalists what headline would sell their paper the next day. They came up with, ‘The Queen is pregnant’.
“Secrets, scandals, sex, royalty, religion sells, so you have that pressure on your business. At the same time you have to be correct, proper – we hope you make the right choices,” he said.
Asked by a Forum delegate for a single tip for success in leadership, Ibrahim said that clarity of purpose was important: “Stick to it. Don’t change with fashion. Have that vision clear. Nothing comes for free.”
Meanwhile, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation will hold its next annual gathering in Tunis from 12-13 November. The gathering of global figures this will highlight the vital role that citizens can play in improving governance.
A concert will be open to the public and feature major Tunisian artists alongside African superstars, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. The event will celebrate the critical role that Tunisia’s youth have recently played in the country.
Story by Rod Amner.