Africa has another opportunity to unlock its potential and rapidly advance development through social investments in critical sectors of health, climate change, education and energy. At the second edition of the Africa Social Impact Summit, ASIS, holding in Lagos, experts across the continent has one more chance to unleash prosperity and accelerate attainment of the sustainable development goals, writes Adeyemi Olusoga
At the Africa Social Impact Summit (ASIS), a social investment program co-host by the United Nations and Sterling One Foundation, experts are already predicting that Africa would have another opportunity to advance actions towards ending Africa’s intractable challenges in the area of health, environment, education and energy.
Africa Social Impact Summit is Africa’s biggest social impact gathering, which brings together social entrepreneurs, investors in social enterprises, the civil society and international organizations to make a deal for development. Hosted by Sterling One Foundation and co-convened by the United Nations in Lagos Nigeria, the summit will hold at the Eko Convention Centre between August 10 and 11 2023.
Themed: Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the Africa Development Ecosystem for Sustainable Outcomes, this year’s summit would have Amina Muhammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Abubakar Suleiman, MD/CEO Sterling Bank, Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, Matthias Schmale, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and Professor Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Senior Special Adviser to the President of the Africa Development Bank and other top 50 leaders leading collaborative discussions on driving Africa’s development goals.
Africa has been plagued with multiplicity of challenges that appear to be defying solutions thrown at it. The challenges of Africa in health, education, education and environment seem unsolvable when matched against the several actors in the development ecosystem. A paradigm shift from the norm is what ASIS intends to achieve: “The 2023 ASIS, will reach deep resolutions required to move the continent forward, we are deliberate and very intentional, Africa must rise above its besetting challenges and if that must happen, we all must join efforts to make that change happen,” says Olapeju Ibekwe, the Chief Executive Officer, Sterling One Foundation.
Ibekwe, who leads the Foundation’s development agenda maintains that the days of solo efforts are gone: “It is participation, it is collaboration, it is partnerships that make real change happen.”
To make real change happen in Africa, there is need to engage Africa in an organized way, this is the opportunity the summit presents; working together with all important stakeholders including community leaders, funders and actors in the field of social change for collaboration.
The 2023 edition of ASIS comes with different ramifications of innovation, aside the regular deal room, a program designed to connect social development business to investors. It has several sections for change makers in the area of renewable energy, education and health sector as well as climate action. These segmentations are aimed at maximizing the impact of the program and deliver value needed to make change happen in their various countries and communities.
Making Every Dollar Count
It is important to stress the need for ‘responsible’ aid to Africa. The term ‘responsible’ infer that much of the aid coming into Africa rarely make needed change happen. One Campaign, estimate that aids sent to the continent in 2021 alone, totaled US$54.4billion. One estimate puts aids to the continent at US$1.2 trillion dollars over the last three years. When matched with the level of poverty, impoverishment and lack of almost all essential human and basic existential infrastructure, the continent is not doing too well, despite the huge donor investment in the continent.
This is the gap ASIS is aimed to bridge. The summit is calling for a new approach to delivering aids and donor money to Africa. Ensuring that every dollar spent in Africa can be tracked to a development project which is beneficial to the people of the continent. Doing that, the bar of accountability will be raised, making it easier to deal with deserving organizations that are really working to make impact in Africa.
Mainstreaming Data for Development
One of the biggest development challenges in Africa is data, information and its authenticity, or its accuracy. Without data and without information, there will be confusion on what needs to be done, what should be the priority and the urgency to act. There has been a deluge of data-failure in Africa. Most of the data are obsolete, unreliable and does not reflect the real challenges of the continent.
ASIS 2023 offers the chance to harness data, it will serve as a hub for information exchange because of the huge number of expert delegates, world class speakers and high-ranking officials that will be participating and delivering several expert sessions.
It is expected that ASIS will be an opportunity to harness development data, serving also as a hub for collecting and connecting data to development.
Doing It Together
The road to recovery and acceleration of the development 2030 goals is quite long and rough. Africa is falling short in almost all development indices. The continent is plagued with diseases, hunger, war and economic depression; these makes the 2030 target for SDG attainment a task that requires joint effort to tackle. “There is a lot of work to be done when it comes to development indices, the numbers are worsening,” Ibekwe said also noting that only a collaborative effort and strategic partnerships can accelerate the attainment of the SDGs.
“It is no longer the time to go alone. As social impact makers, we are not competitors, we are collaborators, we are partners,” Ibekwe concluded.
“It is clear to us at the United Nations that unless we take urgent action, the 2030 agenda will become not more than a broken promise to the world’s most vulnerable people, that is where our interest in collaborating with Sterling One Foundation comes from, we believe that this is an important piece in the road to recovery,” Matthias Schmale, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said.
The Africa Social Impact Summit, ASIS is an annual event of the Sterling One Foundation. The event is a critical piece in the push to accelerate the sustainable development goals in Africa. Its mission aligns with goal 17 of the SDG which is Partnerships for the Goal. Goal 17 is the pivot on which the entire goals hang.
Olusoga, a journalist and Public Affairs commentator would be attending the ASIS and writes in from Lagos