ASR och Firmin Koto på seminariet Migration & Development
Måndag 16:e november kl 12-16 äger seminariet Migration & Development rum. Arrangör är The Nordic Working Group, som leds av ordförande Monia Benbouzid. Afrosvenskarna i Stockholm deltar på seminariet och representeras av Firmin Koto.
Seminariet hålls hos SIDA på Valhallavägen 199 i Stockholm.
Nedan finner ni informationen på engelska samt en intervju med Firmin Koto.
Information in English below.
Time: Monday 16 november at 12.00-16.30,
Venue: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency SIDA, Valhallavägen 199, Stockholm
The Nordic Working Group (NWG) consists of a heterogeneous group of diaspora representatives interested in developmental issues both in countries of origin as well as host countries.
Finding a common way forward
The Nordic Working Group (NWG) consists of a heterogeneous group of diaspora representatives interested in developmental issues both in countries of origin as well as host countries. It is chaired by Afro-Swedish business woman and politician Ms. Monia Benbouzid.
The November seminar’s impetus is to highlight the work done over the previous year and to have constructive dialogue on migration with governments and other key parties. The NWG has a global outreach so English is it’s working language.
The AfroSwedish National Association in Stockholm will be represented there by Mr Firmin Koto who is an Afro-Swedish journalist, cultural worker, and entrepreneur. Firmin’s many engagements naturally keeps him very busy but he did not hesitate for a moment to sign up for the conference as our representative. We caught up with Firmin and managed to get his view on the upcoming event.
To begin with could you please tell us something about your business record in
– When I came here as a young African I immediately saw that many positive things from Sweden could be useful in an African context. The problem was that Sweden doesn’t really know Africa and not much can be done in terms of exploiting business opportunities without adequate knowledge. I decided I could play the role of intermediary between Africa and my new homecountry Sweden so I founded Intermédiaire Consulting where we immediately launched a quite ambitious project of exporting Swedish potato to the Ivory Coast. We also started an initiative to preserve the environment with the government of the Ivory Coast as our partner. We surmounted some cultural challenges when we paired Swedish and Ivorian knowhow to found Ivory Coast’s very first ecovillage, Grand Bassam.
Firmin, in your own words, how can the African diaspora be useful in promoting
development both in Sweden and on the African continent?
– I think that this is more a political issue than a business issue in the sense that I don’t think it is about Afro-Swedish people starting companies with the aim of doing business with Africa. Rather it is about Sweden having the political will to facilitate for existing Swedish companies that want to do business with Africa. Business between countries often needs governmental encouragement and support of some kind and we should advocate for that. Our role in this should rather be as intermediaries since we are familiar with both cultures involved. We can help save time and money by removing the middlemen. For example, my country of origin is the Ivory coast which produces a lot of cocoa. Swedish companies BUY Ivorian cocoa but because of lack of trust and knowledge of the Ivory Coast they buy Ivorian cocoa from French intermediaries. Thus, with Afro-Swedish consultants offering our services Swedish chocolate manufacturers can save a lot of money.
What is your prediction for the future concerning the involvement of the Afro-Swedish
minority in shaping Swedish policy and business relations with Africa?
– I am optimistic about the future since Africa is truly the continent that cannot move in any other direction but towards further development. I also see Africans in the diaspora playing a much more influential role since, for example, the AfroSwedish people are clearly making themselves heard in a different way from before. No longer do we accept the inferior status one have tried to award us but rather we create our own paths. I see more and more Afro-Swedes involved with trade chambers and who are having a say in how Sweden does business with Africa. I think this will continue to a point where it will be seen as strange for a company with African business interests not to employ Afro-Swedes. But we have to organise more and start seeing the opportunities around us. When I came to Sweden they told me I could not be a journalist because I didn’ speak Swedish. But I made a francophone web magazine for the Swedish public called 100pour100culture.com which has now been coming out for eight years.
You have been tasked with giving the final address. What points will you stress in
– I think a prerequisite for Africa to enter into the industrial age is the electrification of Africa. In that I agree with Jean-Louis Borloo the French politician who has proposed an idea for how every household in Africa shall be electrified and put a price tag on it, namely 250 billion Euro. He is working on getting all 53 African countries behind the idea. With electricity and access to the Internet, development will increase rapidly and Africa will be less susceptible to resource exploitation. This is something all of the African diaspora should support and I will be sure to mention it in my address.
Interview done by Kitimbwa Sabuni