Distinguished figures from governments, diplomatic community, civil society, and the public and private sectors have converged in Lagos for the two-day Africa Social Impact Summit (ASIS) 2023, jointly organised by the Sterling One Foundation and the United Nations, Nigeria.
The summit, held under the theme “Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the African Development Ecosystem for Sustainable Outcomes,” aims to foster partnerships and mobilize investments to propel Africa towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As the world reaches the midpoint of the 15-year timeline designated for the SDGs, there is a resounding call for reflection on progress achieved and identification of areas necessitating intensified efforts for success.
Addressing this imperative, ASIS 2023 draws together prominent voices such as former Malawian President Joyce Banda, Consul Generals from British High Commission, the United States, Germany, and Denmark, Permanent Secretaries from various Nigerian Ministries, non-profit leaders, business executives, and experts spanning sectors such as education, health, climate action, and agriculture.
Mrs. Olapeju Ibekwe, CEO of the Sterling One Foundation, expressed optimism for the novel partnerships and innovations emerging from the summit. She emphasized the potential for existing social impact initiatives in rural communities to access diverse resources for widespread impact across the continent.
She further underscored the role of the private sector and the partnership with the United Nations in driving sustainable development goals.
Mrs Ibekwe said: “Africa is yearning for action… There is the capacity to build strong partnerships for sustainable solutions to move from plans to action quickly. I urge everyone to interact and collaborate because the stakes are very high.”
Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director and CEO of Sterling Bank Limited, emphasized the importance of tackling the root causes of widespread poverty across Africa.
He urged participants to foster relationships that lead to innovative problem-solving.
“The only thing that matters is the relationships you form today and how these relationships transmit to a much better outcome than you had before you came here,” he emphasised.
Mr. Matthias Schmale, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Nigeria, described the Summit as a timely platform for addressing Africa’s challenges and opportunities.
He advocated “a whole-of-society” approach, where the private sector plays a pivotal role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Schmale urged CEOs and investors to embrace the UN Global Compact principles and prioritise social impact considerations.
Key stakeholders, including Mr. Will Stevens (US Consul General), Mr. Weert Börner (German Consul General), Mrs. Jette Bjerrum (Danish Consul General and Head of Trade), and representatives from the British High Commission, harped on Africa’s potential and the necessity of global partnerships for impactful change.
The summit, boasting partnerships with top organisations like The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, and MTN Foundation, drew over 1,500 attendees, including more than 60 industry experts. It featured keynote addresses from Amina J. Mohammed (Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations), Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka (Senior Special Adviser to President on Industrialization, African Development Bank Group), and Adrian Clamp (Global Head of Connected Enterprise at KPMG).
The discussions encompassed diverse topics, including education access, healthcare, climate change solutions, civil society effectiveness, water initiatives, equitable development, and youth engagement.
Additionally, a deal room showcased pitches from 18 selected businesses across Africa, aiming for expansion and capacity enhancement with a combined investment bid of around $49.6 million.
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