Former UK Prime Minister, Toney Blair has been very busy on the African continent before and after ‘escaping’ from the political space of the United Kingdom. His overly busy activities on the continent earned him the title, “the man who whispers to African leaders” but what exactly does he tell them? Why are people concerned about his meeting with Mali’s transitional president, Bah N’daw for “institutional reforms and elections”?
As the Prime Minister, Blair had the opportunity to build networks with the various heads of states in Africa and also establish grounds for his foundations and business networks which he later intensified after his term as Prime Minister ended. He declined the existing honor of elevation to the House of Lords coupled with its attached benefits, obviously, to focus on his businesses, especially those in Africa.
With a full flare business organization which first started as a charity known as the Faith Foundation and the Africa Governance Initiative, which was later converted into the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), the former prime Minister spearheads an operation with which he provides services to top African leaders.
With the help of cells referred to as the “delivery units” mostly consisting of young graduates and international experts strategically positioned at the heart of African governments, as deep as the office of the President, Ministries or top government agencies, Blair executes his agenda of rendering ‘advisory services’ to governments in terms of priority projects, funding, attraction of investors, business partnerships etc. In The Gambia, our contact working in the President’s office confirmed to us that Blair has a consulting office inside the country’s state house.
He has over the years been a regular customer to the likes of Liberia’s George Weah, Adama Barrow of The Gambia, Macky Sall of Senegal, among others with the latest target being the Malian transitional President. It is believed that Blair earns good undisclosed amounts through the services he renders to leaders of these African states. In 2018 for instance, he advised the Guinean government to raise funds from China to construct the Kaleta dam worth between $446 million-412 million euros and the Souapiti dam worth $1.4 billion-1.3 billion euro, the privatization of companies in Mozambique, structuring of the cashew nut industry in Côte d’Ivoire etc.
The former UK Prime Minister has faced numerous criticisms including claims the adoption of diversionary tactics redirecting attention to the positives of the government any time there is a major concern with tendency to expose leaders under contract with his outfit. Moreover, there have been claims of the abuse of his organization’s popularity and well-connected links, by way of adopting mafia tactics to secure contracts from African leaders or make things ‘difficult’ for them if deals fail.
Additionally, many people are of the view that, depending on the advice of a foreign organization such as the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) to determine priority projects is misplaced as the definition of “priority” may not reflect the true socio-economic realities of the countries involved.
However, the TBI denied those allegations, stating that it only offers advisory support without getting directly involved in national affairs; are you aware that Toney Blair’s organization has a team integrated at the heart of your country’s government or its agencies? What do you know as the purpose of such an office?