Acton Institute Powerblog

Bono: Give Us a Call

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The Rock Star, sounding kind of Acton-ish:

Bono acknowledges that four years ago when he toured Africa with then U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, bringing private sector with him would never have crossed his mind.

It’s a signal of changes in Africa over the past decade, but in part it’s Bono’s own advocacy that has helped shift attitudes toward the African agenda.

“I think it is bizarre that Africa got me interested in commerce,” chuckles the U2 lead singer in an interview with Reuters. “I am an activist but I looked at the mosaic of problems facing this magical place and I could see so many of the pieces intersected with commerce, trade and entrepreneurial spirit.

“And I’m saying, I believe that Africa can compete with China in terms of offering jobs to its people in the apparel sector, I believe Africa can compete with India in terms of offering jobs to people in the IT sector, if this problem of business efficiencies and strangulation of red tape and corruption can be dealt with,” he said. Africa’s political leaders know the influence he wields. Lesotho’s Minister of Trade and Industry Mpho Meli Malie is one of those who knows that having Bono pitch for Lesotho’s apparel sector could bring new investments. “A celebrity like Bono and with his organization DATA they should be able to penetrate and encourage some of the brands to consider Lesotho as a destination,” said Malie.

The more that Bono and his fellow advocates turn their attention to private sector and entrepreneurial solutions to Africa’s problems, the better. And Bono – if you’re out there – Give us a call, will you? Let’s talk.

Marc Vander Maas


  • Clare Krishan

    Britain’s Director of Trade Strategy for the U.K.’s Dept of Trade and Industry, Tim Abraham was recently in the Vatican to talk with officials about the role of trade in making a more equitable world: getting trade to help alleviate poverty and develop the third world… Hear the good man interviewed by Sr. Janet Fearns on second hand clothing (c.f. Impact focus topleft of this page) and subsidies in cotton commerce at
    (not permanent podcast, halflife less than a week)
    While you may chose to disagree with the positions of one or other party, the encounter is exquisite as the minister cordially defends skewering the poor with ‘subsidies’ while the nun gently queries our “tempting” the undeveloped world into purchasing goods and services they cannot afford to pay for…