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How To Keep Africa's Economy On GrowthTrajectory, By Coca-cola Boss

         Date: 2012-07-30

           Tag: Africa Economy, Africa Coca-cola

Summary: A BALNCED journalism, especially as it relates to economy and socio-political governance, is the central factor in engendering and sustaining Africa’s economic growth, according to Mr. William Asik…

A BALNCED journalism, especially as it relates to economy and socio-political governance, is the central factor in engendering and sustaining Africa’s economic growth, according to Mr. William Asiko, Chief Executive, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (CCAF).

Speaking to Nigerian journalists in Lusaka, Zambia, shortly after the 17th edition of CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Awards last week, Asiko, a Kenyan, whose Foundation sponsored the Economic and Business Reporting category, said excellence in Journalism would hold African governments accountable making them deliver on governance for economic growth.

According to him, Coca-cola has been sponsoring the continental Awards, “which has been growing from strength to strength in terms of numbers, entries and quality of reports,” in the last 12 years because it is committed to adding value to economies of countries were it operates.

Urging African journalists to deliberately save crumbling economies or sustain growth by exposing shady deals and contracts, Asiko, however, noted that “six, out of the 10, fastest growing economies in the world are of African extraction.”

“I believe that the sponsorship of the African Journalist Awards is part of that growth and we should be part of that, as we see excellence in journalism.”

According to Asiko, Coca Cola has a long history in Africa, having started and remained in business since 1928.

“We have never left a single market. By 1970, we were covering half the countries in Africa and today we cover all countries. We are positioned to take advantage of Africa’s growth because we are everywhere.

We produce locally with local employees and we can take advantage of any change in the economy. The more the people prosper, the more they buy our products and that is what we have seen in every market.

On challenges, the CCAF boss said: “I don’t think there is any business concern that does not have its challenges.

We had challenge in Rwanda in 2006 when that country had its problem; we also had challenges in Kenya in 2007 during the post election violence; and also in Zimbabwe and DRC during the hyper inflation. The critical thing is how to handle those challenges when they arise.

“ If you take a long view of your investments, those challenges will only be a hiccup on the journey; but when you withdraw from the market because of temporary challenge, you will never be successful anywhere.”

“What we want are journalists who are objective, who dig the story and go out to report with passion and excellence.

On why Coca-Cola sponsors the Economic and Business Reporting category, Asiko said: “When there is excellence in Journalism, every body wins (not just Coca Cola, but everybody). The citizens win because the journalists are able to hold government to account; and the government wins because Journalists are able to uncover corrupt deals.     Everybody wins when there is good Journalism. For us, it is not just CSR, we believe it is good business and we win when journalism is good and achieve excellence.”

Coca-cola, Asiko admitted, has had a profitable and successful operation in Nigeria, describing it as the most populous country in Africa.

“We have had a very good business in Nigeria for a long time. Today, the economic policies of government are favourable to business. We are seeing a lot of infrastructure growth in Nigeria and the middle class growing; this is what is good for our business.

“Every body is investing in Nigeria, not just Coke, but other international investors (including oil and gas, electricity companies).

Commodity pricing is growing and Nigeria is positioned to take advantage of this world’s economic development.

“ Nigeria is putting the past behind and I think the future for Nigeria is rosy and Coke wants to be part of it.”

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