East Africa Today: An interview with Omari Issa
In Episode 24, East Africa Today pays a visit to Mr. Omari Issa, former CEO of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF). Mr. Issa explains how his outlook on Africa evolved before joining ICF and after. How has he seen Africa's transformation? Has it been purely economic or has there also been social and political transformation? In the podcast we ask Mr. Issa whether he feels vindicated with the advent of mobile phones and the Internet considering the fact that he and Mr. Mo Ibrahim were called crazy when they began working together at Celtel International. We also discuss the role of the private sector in sparking economic and social transformation and how the government cannot transform countries on its own. Mr. Issa makes a strong case for the private sector and how African governments should provide the necessary environment for the private sector to grow. Mr. Issa uses the example of Air Tanzania to make his point stating that in Tanzania, the government thinks owning the airline is more important than delivering the service to the people.
At ICF Mr. Issa's primarily responsibilities were to manage the organization's seven-year program to improve Africa's investment climate and remove barriers to doing business. The main driver of ICF, one that Mr. Issa fully subscribes to, is that a healthy investment and business climate is crucial for sustainable economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation across Africa. Mr. Issa has extensive business experience in the public and private sectors both in Africa and abroad. Prior to joining ICF, Mr. Issa was the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Celtel International, where he played an instrumental role in managing the company's growth and expansion across the continent.
Before joining Celtel, Mr. Issa spent fourteen years with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and six years with the World Bank. He received his Bachelor of Science from The Polytechnic of Central London, and an MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.
Picture: Omari Issa (via Malimbika)