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Private sector key to realising sustainability agenda in Africa – UN

African governments should leverage capital, technology, and manpower from industry to hasten realisation of sustainability agenda and pandemic recovery in the continent, Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, said on Thursday, December 3, 2020.

Amina Mohammed
Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina J. Muhammed

She said this during a virtual summit to discuss the role of business in the attainment of key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like poverty eradication, health, and gender parity in Africa.

Mohammed said that targeted investments from Africa’s indigenous businesses are required to catalyse inclusive growth in the continent amid COVID-19 linked economic shocks.

“The private sector in Africa should seize the opportunity to invest sustainably and create a peaceful, prosperous continent that is also resilient to the shocks triggered by the pandemic,” said Mohammed.

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More than 2,000 delegates including policymakers, donors, and grassroots campaigners participated in the day-long virtual summit dubbed “Uniting Business for the Africa We Want: Decade of Action and Opportunities”.

The summit that was organised by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with local private sector networks in Africa, discussed market-led interventions that can revitalise the sustainability agenda in the continent.

Mohammed said that Africa requires private sector investments to address chronic underdevelopment, inequality, youth unemployment, and the public health crisis created by COVID-19.

“The business sector should be on the frontline of efforts to re-energise African economies and enhance their resilience to the pandemic by tapping into innovations,” said Mohammed.

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She said that robust policies should be enacted to foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and tackle Africa’s gaping youth unemployment.

Hanna Tetteh, UN secretary general’s special representative to the AU, said that businesses should embrace sustainability principles across their key operations in order to strengthen the response to the climate crisis, pandemics, and civil disruptions in Africa.

“We should utilise the energy, innovation, and creativity of African entrepreneurs to boost recovery from the pandemic, create decent jobs for the youth and strengthen cohesion,” said Tetteh.

Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director of UN Global Compact, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a reawakening among African businesses on the need to invest in programmes that transform local communities.

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“African businesses have been working hand in hand with governments to help defeat the pandemic by providing communities with sanitisers, clean water, and protective gear,” said Ojiambo.

“These businesses are providing local solutions to the challenge of poverty, hunger, lack of clean water, and disease.

“Those actions have ensured the continent is closer to realising the UN 2030 goals and Agenda 2063,” she added.

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