Let’s unlock Africa’s potential, together

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Progress cannot come at the cost of the most vulnerable. If we are to leave no one behind, we must create a more enabling environment. Our young people have a lot to offer and we must do our part and keep our promise to them.

This was how H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, set the tone for discussions and deliberations during his opening address shortly before the start of the 6th annual Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit, which took place alongside the GSMA’s MWC Africa event in Kigali, Rwanda.

The first session on creating Shared Value and technology as an enabler to drive Africa’s growth, centred on need for business to not just start thinking but to act beyond narrow shareholder value to the creation of collective impact, by consciously and intentionally addressing societal and environmental challenges.

As Professor Mark Kramer, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and co-creator of the Shared Value Business Management concept, so aptly put it: “The opportunity for Africa is to take the challenges, which it faces as a continent, and use those challenges as a stimulus for innovation to find new models of creating Shared Value that can advance the economy, the well-being of its citizens and the health of the planet.”

He emphasised that it is this unique combination of Shared Value, mobility and connectivity, which will give Africa an important edge in the future.

The golden thread throughout the day’s proceedings was the importance of working together. As Tiekie Barnard, CEO and Founder of Shift Impact Africa and SVAI pointed out: “Collaboration, strong ecosystems and partnerships are needed to unite this beautiful continent of ours and drive solutions needed to take Africa to its rightful place on the global stage.”

During her opening keynote address, UN Global Compact CEO & Assistant Secretary General, Sanda Ojiambo, reiterated this message.

Sanda Ojiambo

“I believe that technology, innovation and Shared Value generation require a fresh paradigm – one that embraces radical collaboration, affordability and accessibility for the larger public good and economic growth. Africa’s growth is unstoppable. But to get there, we need to ensure our actions are based on Shared Value principles, underpinned by urgency, inclusivity and radical collaboration. When Africa wins, the world wins.”

The first session also saw the participation of James Agin, Managing Principal, Corporate and Investment Banking at Absa Bank Kenya; Steve Kiptinness, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Safaricom; and Maserame Mouyeme, Group Marketing, Public Affairs and Sustainability Director at Old Mutual – all Shared Value advocates, and part of the Shared Value community in Africa.

During the second session, which focused on Climate Justice & the Importance of Climate Finance, Maria Cristina Papetti, Head of Sustainability at Enel Grids also underscored the importance of collaboration and working together.

Importance-of Climate Finance

“If we are to ensure homogeneous growth, we need to rethink the transition process to a just and more inclusive society where no-one is left behind. Most of all we need to act jointly as an ecosystem, leveraging off national and international partnerships to implement scalable solutions across the continent and unlock Africa’s full potential towards a low carbon future.”

She pointed out that there can be no climate justice without energy justice and that access to energy plays a key role in realising the continent’s economic potential.

Participants in the discussion on climate change included Chris Ogbechie, Dean at the Lagos Business School; Virginia Villar Arribas, Deputy Director for Private Partnerships at the World Food Programme; Regis Umugiraneza, SVAI Africa Council of 8 and Director at CARL Group; Garth Napier, MD of Old Mutual Insure; and Steven Moore, Head of Climate Action at GSMA.

The final session on digital inclusion wrapped up proceedings on the first day, by revisiting a key message from President Kagame’s opening when Carl Manlan, VP: Inclusive Impact and Sustainability at Visa CEMEA, eloquently summed up the Summit’s unifying theme.

One Africa One Voice

“The One Africa, One Voice theme is all about inclusivity. We must start recognising the skills that are embedded in the communities all around us. It sets the path for building the Africa we want and, in doing so, we will transform our economies to enabling prosperity through customised doorways for women and youth to enter and by integrating regional and national value chains.”

A case in point, according to Carl, is Visa’s partnership with the SVAI and US African Development Foundation (USADF) to develop and implement a youth-led learning management system, to make practical and core business skills available to selected USADF grantees across 21 African countries. “We believe in the capital value of human progress for partnerships. We are coming together as one and recognise the importance of designing solutions with women and youth at the centre, to the benefit of all.”

He was joined by Jeremy Awori of Absa Bank Kenya; Jamila Saidi of the UK Department for International Trade; Leila Rwagasana, Director of Partnerships at Irembo; and Kwasi Donkor, Chief Strategy Officer at the USADF.

The discussion, which was led by Shift Impact Africa board member Sazini Mojapelo, focused on the use of technology to create Shared Value and deliver much needed solutions capable of closing both digital gaps and the gender divide across Africa.

To view a full recording of Day 1 of the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit, click here.