The FINANCIAL -- Held on the margins of the 2015 World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, the UN Global Compact hosted a CEO Dinner Roundtable event to discuss its Africa Strategy and how it can address issues of infrastructure development on the continent.
Around 70 leaders from the business and investor community, government, the UN and civil society attended the dinner which followed the launch of the Continental Business Network (CBN) – a private sector-led initiative that will focus on facilitating infrastructure development financing for key projects on the continent. The outcomes of the CBN launch will also be presented as a business communique to the African Heads of State at the next Summit of the African Union in January 2016, according to Global Compact.
The UN Global Compact’s Africa Strategy aims to tackle the challenge of a continent leading as the fastest growing economic region in the world but displaying deep-seated imbalances in its economies. The Africa Strategy was specifically mentioned in the communique as a guidance platform for business and investors to ensure environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles are integrated into the infrastructure development planning and implementation process.
UN Global Compact Board Member Robert Collymore opened the dinner event by highlighting how business can work with other stakeholders to address issues of sustainability. Urging companies to join the UN Global Compact and embrace its Africa Strategy, Collymore emphasized governance and the youth dividend as key issues for the private sector in Africa to address in order to stimulate growth and development – particularly on infrastructure.
CEO of NEPAD Agency, H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, provided the keynote address, calling the post-2015 development agenda a global issue, concern and priority. He called on the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the enormous challenges set ahead for the next 15 years and beyond in Africa, and linked the work of the UN Global Compact’s Africa Strategy to the importance of the private sector in all aspects of African development
UN Global Compact Board Member Elias Masilela called on business leaders in Africa to carry forward the mission of the UN Global Compact as a blueprint for how businesses should operate on the continent. Masilela called the post-2015 agenda, the Africa Strategy and the NEPAD PIDA programme an essential “developmental trilogy” for Africa businesses going forward. Stressing that the African CEOs must be the ones to drive the Africa Strategy, he warned that its success will depend on political stability and consideration of ESG issues. Furthermore, he called on African pension funds and sovereign wealth funds to embrace long-term funding and investment.
Collymore concluded the session by emphasizing the importance for business to embrace anti-corruption and good governance, and support Local Networks and work locally on key regional and global issues.