2020, Interview. His Excellence, Ambassador Cheick KEITA, a visionary leader, holds a Master’s in Public Law and a DESS (Domestic & External Security Secretaria) in Public Enterprise, Option Law, Economics, and Management; he is fluent in English, Spanish, and French. He is the Founder and President of OBSERVATOIRE PANAFRICAIN DU NUM ET DIGIT (O.P.N.D), OPEN BUSINESS AFRICA (O.B.A), BRIDGE OF INNOVATION (B.O.I), and CIDIGA.
BRIDGE OF INNOVATION (B.O.I) is a company that identifies innovative start-ups in Africa and supports them through its network of Business Angels and Venture Capitalists to initiate their emergence. To this day, he has bridged six innovative start-ups in Africa. As part of the HOPE FOR NEW AFRICA initiative and promoting entrepreneurship in Africa, Ambassador Cheick KEITA plans to design the Points Entrepreneurship meetings (P.E.) with select international partners, aligning agreements between entrepreneurship and its international partners based on the law of each of Africa’s countries.
Ambassador Cheick KEITA created OPEN BUSINESS AFRICA (O.B.A.) to strengthen partnerships and joint ventures between companies in the South and those in the North establishing new structures, transforming local products, assembly factories, and essential equipment for the development of critical sectors in Africa.
He is an active participant, contributor, and panelist in several international conferences in Africa and A.C.P. (African, Caribbean, and the Pacific States), such as OECD, UNESCO, French Ministry of Finance, World Bank, France, and globally. Ambassador Cheick KEITA served as the UNESCO event ambassador for Guinea when it was named World Book Capital in 2017.
He went on to serve as the Ambassador of the IHRC (International Human Rights Commission) in charge of the Africa zone to follow the new strategy of this institution for the advancement of good governance, the prevention and resolution of conflicts, sustainable development, the rise of new technologies applying it to education and the promotion of education for all, lastly for the socio-economic development of women for a better world.
Since 2018, Ambassador Cheick KEITA is the Vice President of Women for Africa, an international organization for promoting expertise and women’s initiatives. In 2020, he became a Senator of the WBAF (World Business Angel Forum), an international organization for financial inclusion globally, a partner of the G20. He was appointed Ambassador of the WUSME World organization for a week. All of his functions correspond to his commitment and ideals that each citizen of the world must contribute in his way to a better world.
Iliana María SUCH: Please describe a childhood experience that influenced your business career, especially your governance relationship.
Cheick KEITA: I grew up in an environment of economic poverty and social wealth. There were opportunities to appreciate the impact of one’s decisions and the importance of making good choices to improve and develop initiatives that led to positive change. I asked myself and reflected on the following question: what is the state of the economy on social concerns, or is it social concerns on the economy that influenced my career and, particularly, on governance matters?
SUCH: In a few sentences, what is your philosophy of good governance?
KEITA: Governance is exercising political, economic, and administrative authority. My philosophy is rooted in the fact that what must be assessed considers the degree of organization, efficiency, and criteria such as transparency, participation, and sharing responsibilities. For this reason, I am convinced that we must promote a new model of management in public affairs and, based on the participation of civil society at all levels [national, local, regional, and international], is fundamental in establishing ideal governance that respects and values the main objective.
SUCH: Speak to us about the beauty of Africa:
KEITA: Africa is a plural continent with multiple differences in cultures and traditions. Common to all 54 countries that form this continent is the natural beauty in our hearts and souls, a social order whose base is defined by solidarity and the resilience element. When I close my eyes, I perceive the perfect harmony of the lands with forests and dignified fauna, the sun, rainbows, majestic oceans and rivers, and the beauty of the gigantic waterfalls that present them as wonders of the world. A lovely combination of extraordinary animals, women and men, the color of ebony, and a mix of bodies and flavors of varied cuisines create a striking image in my mind. Africa is a symphony of colors and flavors to create artists, fishers, and sculptors. It makes our museums’ richness and authentic identity, by its works and historical inheritances were stolen and later returned to us by the Western countries. Africa is a continent open to the world awaiting visitors to know, love, appreciate, and share its beauty.
SUCH: There are seventeen sustainable development goals. How do you prioritize our time’s most pressing planetary issues, or is it an integrated approach? What is your logic?
KEITA: It is 17 goals to save the world and provide a way forward to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They respond to global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace, and justice. All the goals are interconnected to leave no one behind. It is necessary to achieve each of them, and each of their targets, by 2030.
I would rank the hierarchy of planetary problems we face as follows:
16] Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
3] Good Health and Well-Being
13] Climate Action
2] Zero Hunger
4] Quality Education
1] No Poverty
10] Reduced Inequalities
8] Decent Work and Economic Growth
9] Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
— — and the other objectives will follow my ranking
SUCH: What is your definition of sustainability?
KEITA: Sustainable development is the idea that human societies must live and meet their needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. It is more than protecting the environment. When it is said that investments meet ESG criteria, they meet environmental, social, good governance, and transparency requirements.
A project qualifies as sustainable when there is continued use of results that can be ensured after completing the project. Sustainable development presupposes a model of organization based on three essential pillars: The environmental quality of human activities to limit environmental impacts and preserve ecosystems and natural resources in the long term. It is durable, meaning it has the requirements needed to endure.
Social sustainability refers, in its definitions, to the notion of equity and transmission: “A development which guarantees, for present and future generations, the improvement of the capacities of well-being (economic, social or ecological) for all, through the search for equity.
SUCH: What are some qualities of a visionary leader?
KEITA: A visionary is a person who communicates global aspirations and goals to their colleagues and works actively to motivate and inspire their team to work together towards a common mission. They see the way when everyone is lost, with no apparent path. A visionary vouches for the destination because few people can see it as they do. It is why they are inherently a potential leader. They do not hide the destination as a tributary; the visionary is the most effective leadership style.
SUCH: What book do you recommend reading and why?
KEITA: I recommend BELOVED by Toni Morrison in memory of my mother, who passed away. She was my confidante and friend who moved me, giving me a sense of humility and love. Love is an immense and infinite treasure, so I recommend this book as a dedication to my mother.
SUCH: Are you a spiritual person?
KEITA: Yes, I have my spirituality, and it is important to keep a sense of spirituality. It represents one of the human condition’s values.
SUCH: What does being noble in the 21st Century mean?
SUCH: Who are your top three NOBLE thought leaders?
KEITA: My top three are Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Victor Schoelcher.