United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has observed that Africa is the best investment proposition of the 21st century, in view of its natural resources, arable land and massive population.
She said: “The long term structural endowments of our continent are as strong as ever, most of the world’s natural resources are in Africa and 60% of the world’s arable land and a massive population of motivated youth, Africa is the best investment propositions of the 21st century.”
She gave the verdict at the second edition of the Africa Social Impact Summit co-convened by the Sterling One Foundation and the United Nations in Nigeria, and held in Lagos.
According to a statement on Tuesday, she cautioned that investment in Africa must go beyond extracting raw material, and emphasized that “It must build the roots of a modern economy, hard and soft infrastructure alike, and this must include bold investments into Africa’s strongest asset, its people at the continental, national and local levels.”
Mohammed advocated for channeling massive, targeted investments into youth development, local employment and employability, climate smart solutions, education, health, renewable energy and improved water and sanitation facilities.
However, she cautioned that it would require the private and public sectors working together to scale the necessary financing instruments, guarantees de-risking mechanisms, to strengthen Africa’s development finance network and its institutions.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stressed the need for all to come together with a renewed spirit of collaboration, innovation, and determination, to build a prosperous and sustainable Africa for all.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said that the various projections suggested that Africa would be home to over half of the world’s poorest people by 2030, and that alone underscored the urgency and importance of the summit and the work all needed to do.
“I call upon the private sector, with its scale, sustainability, and innovation, to take the lead in driving change. We must harness the strength of our multi-stakeholder partnerships and leverage enterprise-driven innovations to create impact ecosystems that foster inclusive growth and recovery.” The Governor said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Sterling One Foundation, Olajeju Ibekwe, disclosed that the second edition of the Africa Social Impact Summit was a marked improvement on the 2022 edition.
She said: “I am also humbled by the intentionality of the private sector to own the sustainable development goals and move the needle. We are grateful to the partnership of the United Nations as our co-convenor for this conference.”
Ibekwe expressed hope for several partnerships and innovations to emerge from the summit, adding that: “And we are also looking forward to existing social impact initiatives in different rural communities, accessing more resources, multilevel resources to be able to do more and spread their impact from communities to communities across the Africa.”
Earlier, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, emphasized that “You can’t do business on a dead planet. Africa’s private sector can be a catalyst for change, supercharging our trajectory towards the 2030 Agenda.”
To achieve the pace and scale of transformative change that the world needs, Schmale noted that private sector investments must not just be motivated by profit but by considerations of what would have the greatest social impact.
He urged the CEOs and investors to embed sustainability into their decision making and align their business practices with the SDGs.
The theme of the Summit held on 10 – 11 August 2023, was ‘Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the African Development Ecosystem For Sustainable Outcomes.’