Hungary may find its good reputation in Africa again...
Dr. Zsolt Becsey, the State Secretary for Foreign Economic Relations said that Africa is one of the possible and desirable economical destinations, in a report in the Gazdasági Rádió (Economical Radio) on the 22nd of July. The minister talked about the collaborations between Hungary and the countries of Africa, especially in the Maghreb countries, in the 70s and 80s, he even talked about the African students who finished their studies in Hungarian universities, who may possess high positions in their respective countries now. These things were already mentioned many times by NGOs, like the African-Hungarian Union. We asked Sándor Balogh, the president of AHU about the things said by the State Secretary.Afriport: What do you think about the things Dr. Zsolt Becsey said?
Afriport: What does that mean specifically?
BS: It means that I am delighted to finally see that the things I, and other Africa experts, talk about finally got into the ears of the who decisionmakers in our country, and I hope that these things will be finally built into the country's economic policy.
Afriport: What are those things, specifically?
Firstly, we should not simply forget about Africa, since it has become one of our neighbors, especially our neighbor from the South after we joined the European Union in 2004, meaning that it's no longer a far away continent shrouded in mystery, on which more than a billion people live there. And even if these people said to be poor, but if every person spends only 2 dollars a day, that means two billion dollars every day and 800 billion dollars on an annual basis. That amount is around 20 times the amount the world sends to Africa in the form of various aids. Even the French president Sarkozy believes that Africa will become the engine of the global economy in the next 20 years.
In the 70s, 80s, many professionals worked in Africa, who proved that the Hungarian professionals are really professionals. This was further strengthened by the thousands of Africans who returned from Hungarian universities with great knowledge, these returnees still think of Hungary as their second home country. Many of the Africans who learned at our universities, became the decision making body in their respective countries, as ministers and leaders of private businesses. These people usually wonder why their second home country does not live with the opportunities they could give, usually they cannot even get a visa to enter Hungary in order to establish some kind of collaboration between countries. They cannot comprehend why we do not even send a set of Hungarian CDs to them while millions wait for their chances to cooperate with them. They are waiting and still keeping waiting for us, but I am unsure whether they will wait much longer or not. And if they'll wait, but how long? I cannot say.
The global economical crisis showed us that we need alternative markets, next to the European one, especially since a strong middleclass is being slowly formed in Africa and Asia whose members would definitely buy our quality products. But, we ignore these new chances and ignore a lot of good opportunities, just like how we ignored China 30 years ago, and now we can only admire the difference between them and us.
We forget that there are many requests from Sudan to buy seeds; Egypt would like to buy corn, since neither of those countries can produce them on their own. Nigeria is looking for Hungarian professionals and agricultural technology. Even now, there is a Nigerian delegattion to find some serious people to do business with, since no matter how much they tried until now with the help of the hungarian embassy in Abuja, they could not get closer to their goals.
As you can see, we ignore such great opportunities, and even if we are drawn into a project by people like the Nigerian delegate I have mentioned earlier, we usually try to escape from it since we can only think about one thing after hearing the word 'Africa': "Who cares about that?"
Everyone is interested in Africa, everyone except us. America, Europe, (e.g. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Slovakia are constantly opening new legates in order to promote economic penetration) China (whose citizens are interested in the natural resources) are all interested in Africa. One example: in Nairobi, in the Swedish embassy, there are 12 economic diplomats, while in the three Hungarian black-African embassies; there are only 6 diplomats to deal with the ones seeking a visa. To top this all off, there is only ONE hungarian economic diplomat in Africa, in Algeria, who is supposed to deal with the wishes of more than 1 billion people. We must recognize: without state involvement, it is hard to do business in Africa.
Therefore, if the things stated by Dr. Becsey mean that the things I mentioned now will change positively, then I am filled with joy since this was one of the goals we set after we formed our organization.
Afriport: Thank you for answering our questions and we wish a lot of success for the African-Hungarian Union.
BS: I thank you for this opportunity and I hope that you will be able to write about a lot of Hungarian successes in Africa.