Interview: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

How can labour collaboration foster better rights and a more competitive business environment?

LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA: Nigeria and Brazil should forge closer ties not only between the heads of state but also between representative groups in civil society, particularly between the unions. After meeting with the unions during my visit to the country earlier in 2013, I was able to detect the similarities that exist between the struggles and aims of Nigerian workers and those of Brazilian workers, and upon my return I suggested a process for closer collaboration.

By maintaining a dialogue, organised workers in both countries can improve their understanding of their rights and duties and can more effectively negotiate with management. More rights and better salaries for Brazilian workers fomented a strong internal market, fostered growth in the enterprises operating in Brazil, thereby raising the Brazilian quality of life to new heights. I believe the same can happen in Nigeria.

How can social spending be channelled to the population in an effective way?

LULA DA SILVA: In partnership with the African Union and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) the Lula Institute recently brought together African leaders to discuss new approaches to end hunger in Africa. Brazil plays a unique role in such fora. Governments in many African countries can study, adapt and apply in their own countries several successful programmes implemented in Brazil over the past 10 years.

In Brazil, local communities have played a strong role in identifying beneficiaries, while the judicial system and civil society protect against the diversion of funds. The banking system reduces bureaucracy and helps channel resources directly to the beneficiaries. Furthermore, we opted to provide resources to women, who in general have more responsibilities in caring for children, and future generations. By deploying new ideas like mobile banking, African countries such as Nigeria can successfully adapt this model to local realities.

How can South-South foreign aid help foster economic growth and good governance?

LULA DA SILVA: The development of South America and Africa cannot put so much emphasis on foreign aid from developed nations and the requirements around the prescribed use of resources. The Africa of the 21st century is walking independently towards good governance, democracy and a new relationship with traditional donor countries, characterised by diminishing financial participation in government budgets.

At the same time this means interacting more directly with other developing countries, particularly those of South America. While economic crises plague the traditional donor countries, Africa’s future development is now due largely to the strengthening of relations with China, India, Turkey, Brazil, Russia and other Asian countries. Relationships with these countries do not resemble the relationships with previous colonisers. Instead, these countries play the role of investors, entrepreneurs and, most importantly, partners.

What must be done to capitalise on the growing strengths of the global South?

LULA DA SILVA: All of the big multilateral organisations must begin to reflect the new world order built in the past few years. The UN, in particular, needs to reflect this in its councils and internal organisations.

The collaboration between South America and Africa has advanced considerably, with the recently created Africa-South America Alliance (ASA) as the latest channel of collaboration. Furthermore, the increase in the number of Brazilian embassies in Africa from 17 in 2002 to 38 in 2013, and the increase in the number of African embassies in Brazil, are important steps in the promotion of closer ties. It is the shared disposition of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and myself that we must seize this pivotal moment of collaboration. For this I am very optimistic with respect to the possibilities for advancement of deeper relations between our two countries.