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UN says private sector key to realize sustainability agenda in Africa

Namanve assembly plant. Governments have been urged to develop initiatives to increase private sector investments in the region.

Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua | African governments should leverage capital, technology and manpower from industry to hasten realization of sustainability agenda and pandemic recovery in the continent, a senior UN official said on Thursday.

Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy secretary-general, said that targeted investments from Africa’s indigenous businesses are required to catalyze 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 Mohamed.

She spoke 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.

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 organized by the United Nations Global Compact in collaboration with local private sector networks in Africa, discussed market-led interventions that can revitalize 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-energize African economies and enhance their resilience to the pandemic by tapping into innovations,” said Mohammed.

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

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

“We should utilize 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 United Nations Global Compact, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a reawakening among African businesses on the need to invest in programs that transform local communities.

“African businesses have been working hand in hand with governments to help defeat the pandemic by providing communities with sanitizers, 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 realizing the UN 2030 goals and Agenda 2063,” she added.

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Xinhua

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