Strategy and will key to uplift Africa’s communities
With a fresh burst of growth in Africa’s business sector, there has never been a better time to produce innovative solutions to offer effective social impact solutions for millions of African citizens.
By Yinka Sanni
As we marked Africa Day yesterday, and amidst the rebuilding of the continent’s economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the business community needs to consider how to deliver a fair and just economic renewal that benefits all in bringing prosperity to the continent.
Africa is not only the most resource-rich continent in the world, and by far the largest in land mass, but Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing companies, many of them in the technology sector.
According to the Financial Times’ (FT) ranking of Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies, the corporate landscape is transforming, with technology, fintech and support-service businesses quickly adapting to a radically altered environment.
Leading countries with the most companies in the rankings were South Africa with 24 companies, Nigeria with 20, Kenya with nine, and Egypt with six. The fastest growing companies, by as much as 346% compound annual growth rates, range from technology companies, to agriculture, support services, financial services, energy, and transport.
This surge in advanced sectors presents an opportunity to develop high skill knowledge economies, while also uplift African citizens in a broad-based way. It is a clear indication of the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of the continent.
Vital to address social impact
While the corporate sector is undoubtedly on an upward trajectory, it is vital that we also support comprehensive social impact intervention that addresses fundamental infrastructure access.
An innovative, integrated social impact strategy is necessary to deliver sustainable education, health, housing, and economic opportunities that can directly enhance the quality of life and resilience of even the most disadvantaged communities.
For instance, the National Bureau of Economic Research reports that an additional four years of education can reduce a person’s mortality by 1.8%, decrease heart disease by 2.16% and the cut risk of diabetes by 1.3%.
Those countries that have placed a greater emphasis on developing a health and education systems generally achieve more productive economies as the proportion of educated and healthier workers increases.
The key to unlock Africa’s massive potential
The question, however, is how can this be achieved? What is the key to unlocking the massive potential within the great continent?
A detailed unified strategy is needed, deployed on a mass scale across as many countries as possible. This strategy must have public private partnership at the heart of it, and it must utilise the labour and expertise of local citizens.
The rapid advancement of technology continues, water purification systems, wireless network receivers and micro-grid renewable power generators are in closer reach to many people than they were 10 years ago.
It is this approach that has enabled Standard Bank – with its footprint of 20 countries across the continent to consistently launch a series of projects ranging from school and clinic refurbishment, housing, libraries, scholarships, targeted health care initiatives, agriculture, economic development and others.
Standard Bank, working with local communities and partnering with key institutions, have impacted the lives of more than 1.2 million people across the region, with each operation guided by the group’s principle of using 1% of Profit After Tax (PAT) for corporate social investment initiatives.
Africa is our home, and one of the ways in which we deliver our purpose of ‘driving Africa’s growth’, is through targeted social impact initiatives. Education, health, and economic empowerment are the pillars of our efforts in the communities we work with.
Our initiatives, for which employee community involvement is a key part, help us not only demonstrate that we are engaged citizens of our communities, but ensure that no one else left behind in the exciting period of rebuilding and growth in front of us.
Yinka Sanni is the Chief Executive (CEO) of Africa Regions at the Standard Bank Group
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