His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud has called Africa ‘the unseen opportunity' in an interview with leading Middle East weekly Arabian Business .
In the free-ranging discussion with the magazine, which took place over a 12-hour period, Alwaleed called for a stronger strategy of aid and investment working hand in hand to address the continent's problems.
"There is a syndrome. Unfortunately people in the world amalgamate the whole African continent with one incident or one problem. Okay Zimbabwe has a problem. Burundi has a problem. But Senegal is excellent. Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique - you know, 95% of African countries are okay, there is no problem at all. And there is an opportunity that people are not seeing," Alwaleed told the magazine.
Alwaleed, whose African investments include over ten hotel ventures in Africa, put his current investment returns in the continent at over 100%, achieved through a mixture of aid and investment strategies. Citing Niger, where it is documented that his aid donations have saved over 2 million lives over the recent two-year famine, Alwaleed said: "Now the famine is over and we have been invited to invest in that country. It's a perfect example of giving them the fish and then teaching them how to fish."
Describing Africa, nevertheless, as ‘still sleeping', the Saudi prince makes clear his lack of belief in fundraisers such as Live Aid. "I don't buy this. Africa needs a major strategy and we have it." And as a Muslim, he makes it clear that his charitable work is important to him, including major contributions made to Tsunami relief last year: "You must at least try and help. You will never negate poverty but you can help make a difference," he said.
The often controversial interview finished at 2am. In the time the magazine team spent with him, Alwaleed had made over 200 telephone calls, sent some 100 texts, had met with more than 573 separate people and had revealed that his $23 billion business empire was built on a starting stake of just $30,000.
The full interview is published in Arabian Business 13 th May Edition and will be available online at www.arabianbusiness.com/princealwaleed/ from 13 th May onwards. Both titles are published by the Dubai-based ITP Group.
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