Former Richmond student challenges Africa’s import dependency in debut book

Chuks B. Ibechukwu, who graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Richmond American University London in 2000, and now a development financier and corporate finance lawyer, has written a book titled Imported: Locking In Africa’s Value(s), to be published on 1 August 2022.

Drawing on his extensive career advising on the financing and development of some of the most impactful infrastructure and social projects in Africa and other emerging markets, Imported is Chuks’ reflection on what he sees as Africa’s predisposition to look outside for the expertise and capital required to drive development progress on the continent. It is also a call to Africans and friends of Africa – including investors, policymakers, business owners, and all citizens – to change this mindset and prevailing practice when searching for solutions to the region’s most pressing development challenges.

Following his graduation from Richmond, Chuks complemented his degree with an MA in Environment, Politics and Global Development at King’s College London, before going on to complete postgraduate qualifications in Law at the College of Law in Birmingham, a prerequisite to training for practice as a solicitor.

From a young age, Chuks held an interest in issues affecting the social and economic advancement of developing countries and he initially joined Richmond to complete pre-medical courses as a precursor to a career in medicine and global health within an international organisation. However, Richmond’s liberal arts curriculum exposed him to courses on environmental issues and world politics, which touched on the dynamics that keep the rich world rich and the poor world poor. The Richmond curriculum cemented his belief that his future lay in international development, but it also changed his outlook on how exactly he would be involved in the field – that is, addressing the health, education and other developmental challenges facing poorer nations by mobilising and deploying financing for development.

After leaving Richmond and completing his legal qualifications, Chuks went on to practise with international law firms in London, focusing on banking and finance law and project and infrastructure development. He advised governments, development organisations, investors and corporations on methods of procuring, financing and delivering infrastructure projects with a particular focus on Africa and other emerging markets. He then spent seven years working for International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector financing arm of the World Bank Group, where he advised on financing projects with a development impact objective in various sectors in Africa, including manufacturing, health and education, financial services and infrastructure. His career has seen him living and working in London, Dubai, Johannesburg, Nigeria, Nairobi and Washington, and financing projects in over 30 countries globally, which have attracted over US$40 billion in development financing.

Chuks’ focus has now turned to building strong African institutions with the potential to break Africa’s dependence on outside expertise in the delivery of projects in Africa, becoming one of the founding members of the London-based international arm of Olaniwun Ajayi, one of Africa’s leading law firms, where he is also a partner. This current path is motivated by the message he conveys in Imported.

Focusing mainly on Nigeria, Imported provides an appraisal of Africa’s ongoing journey towards sustainable economic development, drawing on many examples of progressive initiatives, including large-scale infrastructure projects, advancements towards increasing domestic food production, and positive regulatory action.

Chuks said, “It has been one of my lifelong ambitions to publish a book and I’m thrilled that Imported will soon be in the hands of many readers who are as passionate as I am about promoting initiatives geared towards the long-term sustainable development and security of Africa, which I believe hinges on human capital development and creating opportunities for African enterprises to flourish, provide for the region, and export value and values.

Through Imported, I want to challenge all stakeholders in Africa’s progress – including myself because I have also been implicit in perpetuating an import mindset – to examine our reliance on foreign capital, capabilities and ideas, so that we can lock in Africa’s wealth for the benefit of the continent’s people in a meaningful and sustainable way

I mention in my book the fond memories I hold till this day of my university experience at Richmond. My current path has in no small part been influenced by the courses I studied at this university, the attention and inspiration I received from my lecturers, and the incredible international environment and relationships I was exposed to.


Connect with Chuks on Twitter (@chuksbibe) and Instagram (@chuksibechukwu).

Imported is available to order via the following booksellers: