The devastation of COVID-19, the identification of new variants and the lack of vaccines have dampened the positive outlook we have all had for the Africa continent. These factors, coupled with unrest in countries such as South Africa and eSwatini, and with more than seven national presidential elections across the continent that seldom run peacefully, do not bode well for economic recovery. Africa is the only global continent where political violence increased in 2020, in comparison to 2019. Statistics support the impression that conflict on the continent is getting worse, not better.
On the upside, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) officially started operating on January 1st, 2021. By all accounts, it can be life changing for many Africans – if we work together as One Africa, with One Voice. There is enormous pressure to ensure that the AfCFTA does not increase the already widening inequality gap. Pre-existing inequalities mean that more advanced countries, cities, manufacturing firms and the African economic elite stand to benefit the most from expected trade increases.
It can be argued that within the AfCFTA are the highest income disparities of any other continental free trade agreement, when looking at Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt – three out of 55 countries, which account for about 50% of Africa’s GDP.
While the continent is facing challenges, the AfCFTA is just one possible building block that, if done well, will have invaluable benefits for the continent. In order to create a more equitable society – particularly in this Decade of Action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – various sectors of business and society need to come together to collectively interrogate how Africa can achieve the future we all want.
The theme for the 2021 Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit (8-9 November 2021) that will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, is One Africa, One Voice. “The theme reflects what is needed from us as Africans to make a success of the AfCFTA, as well as work together towards Africa’s economic recovery,” says Tiekie Barnard, Founder and CEO of both Shift Impact Africa, the organisers of the event, and the Shared Value Africa Initiative, the regional global Shared Value partner.
The theme reflects what is needed from us as Africans to make a success of the AfCFTA, as well as work together towards Africa’s economic recovery
It goes without saying that the 2021 Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit will not be possible without the support of the SVAI members and sponsors. The current headline sponsors include Abbott, Absa and Old Mutual.
Moreover, this year, the Shared Value Business Management concept also celebrates 10 years since the now-famous Creating Shared Value article was first published in the Harvard Business Review. The concept was created and developed by renowned academics and economists Professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer from Harvard Business School.
The 2021 Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit will be opened by none other than former Head of Sustainable Business and Social Impact at Safaricom Plc in Kenya, Sanda Ojiambo – a child of Africa, a former Shared Value Steering Committee member and the first African to lead the United Nations Global Compact. In addition, we will be joined by Head of Global Sustainability, Infrastructure and Networks at the Enel Group, Maria Cristina Papetti. Enel is the second-biggest energy provider globally, addressing the challenges of providing a decentralised energy solution for Africa. We will also hear from Amy Jadesimi, Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base, about working in a male dominated industry, Gender Equality in the workplace and how empowering women in Africa can be a game changer.
One of the highlights will be a live link, at the end of Day 1, to connect to the start of the global Shared Value Leadership Summit in the USA, in celebration of 10 years of the Shared Value movement across the world.
The Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit will also close off with an insightful address by Prof. Mark Kramer, who will be sharing his views on the important part Shared Value has to play in the economic recovery of Africa.
For the duration of this year’s gathering, building on the record-breaking success of the summit hosted in 2020, a collective of business leaders and influencers, as well as entrepreneurs, will be sharing the virtual stage to address key topics on Africa’s transformation and what it will take to achieve this.