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Geldof tells pension funds: “Give Africa your f****** money!”

Musician Bob Geldof has once again been banging the drum for Africa, only this time it’s not to raise money for famine relief but to invest in a continent where he believes there are good returns to be made.

The controversial Irishman has been telling delegates attending the  National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) conference that UK fund managers should switch their focus from China to Africa.

Geldof and fellow musician Midge Ure led the Band Aid and Live Aid famine relief campaign in the mid-eighties after seeing television images of starving Ethiopians.

Now Geldof is pointing to opportunities in Africa, saying that within five years it will have the largest working age population in the world and already has the fastest growing middle class.

At first glance it looks like an eyebrow-raising shift of position for one of the world’s best-known charity workers who infamously urged television viewers during the Live Aid concert in 1985 to “Give us your f****** money!” (actually, he claims that he told his interviewer: “F*** the address, let’s get the [phone] numbers.”)

Whatever he said the outburst saw donations rise to £300 a second, giving Geldof a valid excuse for his profanity.

As for his current position, there is no reason why charitable work and investment cannot go hand. in hand. While arguing that investing in Africa will produce good returns, Geldof is also pushing for investment in infrastructure which is badly needed.

Bu the benefits to Africa’s poor depends on whether the investment is focused on where the development agencies would want it, or whether it is focused in on those parts of the Africa that are already prospering. If the money pours into these latter regions it may only exacerbate the wealth gap on the continent.

Geldof’s arguments about switching out of China are also intriguing. He claims a greater level of corruption in China and India than exists in Africa and says the Chinese are already investing in Africa.

But he misses a vital point bout China-Africa trade relations. China became Africa’s biggest trading partner in 2009, overtaking the US, but China has been accused of regarding Africa as a huge resource to provide it with the energy needs it requires for its vast population and growing economy. More than 80% of China’s imports from Africa are crude oil, raw materials and resources.

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