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Making African Business the Driver of Socio-Economic Growth

(Geneva and New York, 19 September 2008) – A roundtable discussion on “The African Private Sector Initiative: Strengthening Competitiveness in a Global Context” was convened today during the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs. Focusing on the urgent priority of improving the international competitiveness of African business, the roundtable brought together approximately 100 African political and business leaders.

The discussion, moderated by CNBC news anchor Mr Simon Hobbs, was organized by the Geneva-based International Trade Centre, the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. The World Bank and the United Nations Global Compact co-sponsored the event.

The debate focused on how African regional economic communities can create job opportunities to reduce poverty and how to strengthen the African private sector’s linkages with global markets.

Introductory remarks were delivered by Ms. Obiageli Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, Vice President of the World Bank for the Africa Region, and Georg Kell, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact. In his remarks, Mr Kell urged African leaders to continue to promote best practices that will enhance their competitiveness in the global economy. “African business leaders increasingly understand that good corporate values are fundamental to a smart business strategy, but they also understand that widespread corporate responsibility can play a vital role in achieving development and sustainability across the continent”, he said.

Panelists included Dr. M. Mkwezalamba, Commissioner for Economic Affairs of the African Union; Dr. Cecilia Ibru, Managing Director and CEO, Oceanic Bank International; Ms. Florizelle Liser, US Trade Representative for Africa; and Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary-General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

For further information contact:

Kola Badejo
UN Global Compact Office