Lynda Aphing-Kouassi: “We want to bridge the gap between East Africa and West Africa”
After more than 15 years of experience in the investment banking and financial sector in London, Lynda Aphing-Kouassi, General Manager of Kaizene, has only one ambition: to put her expertise at the service of Africa. Thus, since its return, about 4 years ago, the Ivorian financier organizes every year, through its consulting firm, an innovation forum dedicated to the promotion of better technical and financial solutions in terms of infrastructures in Africa.
For this year, the Rwandan city of Kigali, a reference economic model par excellence, was chosen to host this event aimed at creating a synergy around the development of infrastructures in Africa.
The theme chosen this year is the parallelism between infrastructures, artificial intelligence, education and health. In other words, how infrastructure must positively impact our environment and how we must use our demographic dividend. Interview.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Lynda Aphing-Kouassi, General Manager of Kaizene, a structure that I have created for four years now. I campaign for an innovative Africa, able to take control of its destiny through entrepreneurship. I am firmly committed to helping to build Africa.
What is Kaizene’s creed?
Kaizene is a firm that aims to be a catalyst for boosting customized tailor-made training, coaching, partnerships, social responsibility, and the development of women and youth in Africa.
For this reason, our structure, based in Abidjan and in England, regularly organizes executive coaching sessions, training seminars in order to strengthen the capacities of people in companies and the profitability of companies and to create a corporate culture as well as annual conferences (B2B business to business, business to people) dedicated to the promotion of investments in infrastructure and construction sector in Africa.
We had the opportunity to work with more than forty entities.
Why this conference on infrastructure and construction and the choice of Kigali?
This conference, which is our annual event, allows us to focus on the infrastructure needed for Africa’s development. Development that also goes through agriculture, education and health because we do not forget all sectors need infrastructure.Through this conference, we show and value our African talents as well as the promotion of our African cities. We also highlight existing projects in these countries and allow everyone to discover them and understand their importance to the people.
During this conference, we will make a real parallel between infrastructure, education and health, two of the most important pillars of development, we will have case studies on rural and urban development, good governance policies, intra-regional trade, transport and financing.
African Leadership University students will also be at the center of the organization of this event.
Africa undoubtedly has a real comparative advantage through the demographic dividend. But how to capitalize on the latter for the optimization of resources and the economic and social transformation? It is essential to understand how the health sector, education, artificial intelligence must interact with infrastructure.
Why Kigali’s choice for the organization of this conference?
We chose the city of Kigali because it is a true model for development in Africa.
Rwanda has established itself as a benchmark in terms of good governance, leadership and social and political will on the continent. Women and young people play an important role and this is reflected in the constitution of the parliament and the government. As a typical African model of African success, each African state has its own culture and model but Rwanda shows us that African development is possible so it is good for us to share with states that are progressing and adapting these success models. to our different states.
We can gain talent, understanding of development and benchmarking by removing bridges, as this conference will do, between the two regions and, in general, between Anglophone and Francophone Africa. Language should not be a barrier in the essential search for an African model of African development.
Is there a Rwandan model in infrastructure development and innovation?
Already Rwanda is working on the concept of greenhousing, intelligent social housing, partly based on digital innovation and still unknown in French-speaking Africa. They are resilient, environmentally friendly houses that combine ease of access in terms of price (social housing) and ergonomics, overcoming the concern for demographics and wages.
Rwanda is working extensively on waste processing and recycling, a major focus of infrastructure development. I would say that Rwanda has an infrastructure development approach that takes into account the environment, the climate and social inclusion.
What types of partnerships can be signed during the forum between companies from West Africa and those from the East?
We will work on the energy sector, recycling, couriers, municipalities.
We will have investment funds coming from Africa and Europe. This year, we will be pleased to welcome companies from Korea, Great Britain and the United States but especially from Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and South Africa.
Emphasis will be on win-win partnerships and technology transfer. African local businesses that want to exploit their potential should also be given the chance to showcase themselves. So I will say a lot of partnerships can be signed.
Financing modes evolve in the field of construction and infrastructure often pass through PPPs? What are the new trends in this area?
PPPs, PPPs and other partnership models are widely used. For me first and foremost it is their implementation and understanding that cause problem. The various investors ask us for large guarantees or impose exorbitant rates especially in the field of infrastructure and construction and energy. We should make sure that the maximum profit is felt in our countries. We must be able to negotiate our contracts without complex with any potential partner or investor using our talents.
The authorities must also promote local companies, it is sometimes difficult for a local structure to bid on a project because there are many constraints related in particular to the typology of conditionalities included in the calls for tenders and specifications. .
Companies must set up joint ventures, partnerships with foreign companies to bid for projects.
It is time for our institutions to trust our local businesses by reducing barriers. And we see this social will in Rwanda and how local businesses are growing.
Why are our banks shy about funding infrastructure?
They will tell us during the conference and we will certainly find together the best financing necessary for our development.
According to Goal 9 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Growth (SDG), investments in infrastructure and innovation are imperative and the pillars of development. With half of the population living in the big cities, the development of transport infrastructure and renewable energy is becoming increasingly important as well as digital, new technologies and communication among many others, which explains the parallel that we do during the conference between artificial intelligence and infrastructures because the progress of the latter remains a solution for the economic and environmental challenges that we know in Africa and that by filling the jobs and by facilitating intra-regional trade.
40% of business productivity is lost due to infrastructure constraints in our countries and we must be able to contribute to finding solutions for our development hence our conference initiative.
Our conference will provide the opportunity for companies to sell through the use of booths, leaders to praise their projects but especially to receive feedback from consumers and populations through panels, the possibility of reviewing the operations to through case studies and especially to discuss investment through B2B. Some say that Africa is the continent of conferences without results, we say that repetition is pedagogical and we will continue because we believe that together we will find our solutions by going to the essential and having a true will of common development for all in the absence of individual development.