[Interview] Dr. Mima Nedelcovych, Chairman, AfricaGlobal Schaffer
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Dr. Mima Nedelcovych is the Founder and Chairman of AfricaGlobal Schaffer, a strategic consulting firm focused on project development, project finance, trade facilitation, and public-private partnerships in developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa.
Dr. Nedelcovych served in the Administration of President George Bush from 1989 to 1993 as the U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. He was instrumental in formulating and executing the "private sector initiative" at the AfDB, including the African Business Roundtable and the African Export-Import Bank.
Please tell us about your company.
The Schaffer side of the company, based out of Louisiana, started operating in Africa in the 60s, primarily as an engineering group supporting the development of cane sugar and rice mills. I joined the company as a Partner in mid 90s after serving as the US Executive Director to the African Development Bank. We formed AfricaGlobal in 1999, based in Washington, DC, as the project development/financial structuring in-house arm of Schaffer and the two companies ran parallel for nearly 20 years. When we merged them in 2018 I took over the position of Chairman. We have executed hundreds of successful projects and investments throughout the African continent, focused on agro-processing, related infrastructure and renewable energies, especially solar and biomass.
With the insight you have into the trade and investment layout on the continent, how would you say the AfCFTA impacts the African economy?
What the AfCTA does is create larger markets to be able to scale our agro-processing facilities and power generation to be world class competitive, thus not only feeding Africa, but on the strength of our scaled-up investments also exporting regionally and to the world.
What can African governments do, individually and jointly, to elevate the continent’s private sector?
Simply put, they can do what governments in developed countries do, and that is support the growth of their own private sectors by contributing parallel public investments and pro-business policies to stimulate and encourage the growth of their private sectors.
They should also revisit their policy strategy. Government policies must be geared toward supporting value addition to raw materials and not export of raw materials without value addition, and for that the key is assuring the physical infrastructure required, primarily power, roads and logistics, AND policies that encourage import substitution. Developed economies' private sectors did not become what they are today without the direct support and help of their governments!
You’re a member of the African Business Roundtable. What is the most rewarding aspect of being part of this organization?
Having been ahead of the curve so much with the visionary mission of Babacar Ndiaye, the ABR must now stay ahead of the rapidly growing African businesses and provide that united voice, particularly when dealing with governments.
The ABR has inked several strategic partnerships and forged useful alliances over the years, always to the benefit of Africa’s private sector. What can we expect for the future?
The ABR must take up its leading role as the African Continent's premier continental business organization. It was founded way ahead of its time, when the African-born private sector was in its infancy. Today African born and bred businesses are mature and able and willing partners to do business with each other and with the rest of the word. We have the raw materials the world wants, so lets talk business, but only the value added kind!
Are there, or will there be seats on the board for the youth at the ABR?
Youth are the future so the simple answer is there must be entrepreneurial youth on the Board!
What is the latest news from AfricaGlobal Schaffer?
With our partners Sun Africa, we just signed a Commercial Agreement with the Government of Angola to put in an additional 800MW of solar power and supporting infrastructure into Angola with US Eximbank financing. We have nearly completed the construction of 370MW of solar power on a previous project funded by the Swedish Export Credit Agency at a time when US Eximbank was closed for large projects.
About the African Business Roundtable
The African Development Bank Group set up the African Business Roundtable in 1990. Today the ABR is Africa’s foremost and continent-wide association of businesses and business leaders, and is the representative of the African Business Society to the United Nations. An independent, non-partisan, non-profit private sector funded organization, The African Business Roundtable is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and is the only organization representing the African Private Sector within ECOSOC.
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