Collaboration Key In Ending Poverty In Africa, Says Sterling Bank Boss
Abubakar Suleiman, the Managing Director of Sterling Bank Limited has reemphasized the role of collaboration and strategic partnerships in addressing poverty on the African continent. He stressed this information during his address at the Africa Social Impact Summit (ASIS), recently.
The two-day summit, co-convened by the Sterling One Foundation and the United Nations, Nigeria, gathered influential stakeholders to explore avenues for sustainable development and poverty alleviation across the continent.
In his address, Suleiman stressed that the core objective of ASIS was to ensure a comprehensive approach to tackling the pervasive issue of poverty in Africa. He underscored the importance of forging meaningful business relationships and collaborative efforts among participants.
He remarked, “Six months from now, when we reach out to you, we want to hear that because you came here, you met someone, and you established a relationship, you rethought your approach, therefore, are getting more value from your resources, and are better at solving problems together. The only thing that matters is the relationships you form today and how these relationships translate into a much better outcome than you had before you came here.”
The summit, held under the theme “Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the African Development Ecosystem for Sustainable Outcomes,” marked the second edition of ASIS. Its primary aim was to facilitate partnerships and mobilize investments that would expedite Africa’s progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Matthias Schmale, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (a.i) for Nigeria, highlighted the opportune timing of the summit, occurring amidst significant challenges and opportunities for Africa. He emphasized the 2030 agenda as a crucial framework for addressing the continent’s challenges and urged a departure from business-as-usual approaches in favor of swift collective action. Schmale stated, “Governments, NGOs, and civil society cannot tackle our current challenges alone. If we are to secure a just, sustainable world, we need a whole-of-society approach in which the private sector plays a pivotal role.”
Schmale also urged CEOs and investors to adopt the ten principles of the UN Global Compact, increase the hiring of qualified women, and refocus investments to prioritize social impact alongside profits.
He pledged the UN’s support to the Nigerian Government through the Cooperation Framework for Sustainable Development and encouraged more organizations to embrace Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to accelerate and scale up major development initiatives. This call was met with enthusiasm by the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, who welcomed the idea of PPPs and called upon the private sector to lead innovative efforts to create a robust impact ecosystem for recovery in Lagos State and across Africa.
David Adejo, the Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Ministry of Education, echoed the sentiment of collaboration and endorsed partnerships between the private sector and academia. He highlighted ongoing initiatives with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which have introduced entrepreneurship departments in Nigerian universities. However, he emphasized the need for further collaboration to benefit younger children in the education sector.
Former President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, called upon the private sector in the global north to establish strong partnerships with their counterparts in the global south, with a focus on directly impacting African communities.
The summit also featured remarks from various Consul Generals and representatives of diplomatic missions, including the US Consul General, Mr. Will Stevens, the German Consul General, Weert Börner, the Danish Consul General and Head of Trade, Mrs. Jette Bjerrum, and a representative of the British High Commission. They highlighted Africa’s immense potential, particularly its human resources, and underscored their respective countries’ commitment to supporting efforts to harness these resources for sustainable development.