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Stakeholders convene to chart a new course for sustainable development in Africa

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Diverse stakeholders, including government officials, diplomatic representatives, civil society leaders, and figures from the public and private sectors, recently gathered in Lagos for the two-day Africa Social Impact Summit (ASIS) 2023.

Co-convened by the Sterling One Foundation and the United Nations in Nigeria, the summit sought to foster partnerships and catalyze investments that propel Africa toward realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Under the overarching theme “Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the African Development Ecosystem for Sustainable Outcomes,” ASIS 2023 marked the second edition of the summit. In light of the halfway mark of the 15-year SDG timeline, the event aimed to assess progress, identify successful approaches, and address areas requiring further action to ensure goal achievement.

Former Malawian President Joyce Banda, Consul Generals from the British High Commission, the United States, Germany, and Denmark, Permanent Secretaries of Nigerian Ministries, non-profit leaders, business executives, and experts from key sectors participated.

These included education, health, climate action, and agriculture. The summit served as a platform for sharing insights into diverse sustainability strategies, progress to date, and forthcoming plans.

In her opening remarks, the CEO of the Sterling One Foundation, Mrs. Olapeju Ibekwe, expressed optimism about generating partnerships and innovations from the summit. She envisioned leveraging multi-level resources to amplify social impact initiatives in rural communities, thus extending their influence continent-wide.

Ibekwe also acknowledged the private sector’s proactive engagement with sustainable development goals and lauded the collaboration with the United Nations as a co-convener.

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The Managing Director and CEO of Sterling Bank Limited, Abubakar Suleiman, emphasized the summit’s purpose of addressing challenges driving widespread poverty in Africa through effective action. He underscored the significance of fostering relationships to yield outcomes that surpass previous efforts.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (a.i.), Nigeria, Matthias Schmale hailed the summit’s timing as opportune amid significant challenges and opportunities for Africa. He advocated for a whole-of-society approach involving the private sector to address present issues. He called for greater incorporation of UN Global Compact principles by CEOs and investors, urging consideration of social impact in investment decisions.

Lagos State Deputy Governor, Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, welcomed this approach and encouraged the private sector to drive enterprise-based innovation for recovery within the state and across the continent. Collaboration between the private sector and academia was endorsed by Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Ministry of Education, David Adejo as a means to reshape curricula and produce graduates aligned with societal needs.

Former Malawian President Joyce Banda urged robust partnerships between the global north and south private sectors to directly benefit African communities. Representatives from the US, Germany, Denmark, and the British High Commission echoed Africa’s potential and emphasized their countries’ support for harnessing its human resources.

The summit boasted partnerships with major organizations like The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, and the MTN Foundation, among others. Over 1,500 participants and 60 industry experts convened for discussions spanning critical sectors of the African economy. Keynote addresses by prominent figures highlighted strategies for boosting impact investment in Africa.

Panel discussions tackled various themes, including education access, healthcare, climate change solutions, the operational efficiency of civil society organizations, and equitable development. The event also featured a deal room with businesses pitching expansion plans, exemplifying tangible steps towards sustainable growth.

By facilitating multi-sectoral collaboration, ASIS 2023 aimed to accelerate Africa’s journey towards achieving the SDGs by channeling global efforts into local impact.

(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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