Two Malawian entrepreneur, former presidential aide Ben Phiri and James Woods-Nkhutabasa took part in the Afro-Nordic Business conference in Helsinki, Finland on the opportunities in Africa: infrastructure, consumer goods, education, ICT/technology and renewable energy.
The conference brought together industry leaders and consisted of an opening session by Kingsley Ify (CEO, Springboard), Matti Copeland (Executive Director, Nordic, Business Development, EY Finland) and Kai Mykkanen (Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Finland); this was followed with a keynote speech highlighting the opportunities in Africa which was delivered by Viola Llewellyn (Co-Founder and President of Ovamba); the floor was then open for panel discussions.
London-based Woods-Nkhutabasa served as both speaker and moderator on a panel titled: SDGs & Private Sector – Mutual Benefits for Development – Challenges and Opportunities.
Nkhutabasa was joined on the panel by Hannamaija Fontell (Director, Biolan), Irene Leino (Corporate Responsibility Advisor, UNICEF Finland), PasiRinne (Chairman and Founding Partner, Gaia Group) and Dr. Ben Phiri (Chairman, BEATA Holdings Ltd).
Nkhutabasa opened the panel session by informing the audience of the unprecedented opportunity in Africa and role that governments, private sector, philanthropists and civil society can play to ensure a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.
He enlightened the audience on the 17 SDGs, the opportunities, challenges and the means of implementation with an emphasis on the need for robust global partnership for sustainable development and leaving no one behind.
Nkhutabasa further elaborated on the challenges the SDGs face in financing and political will.
He further added ‘‘Development is threatened by old attitudes. Our continent is young but ruled by an older generation who do not understand the needs of the youth. The old attitudes need to go. Development is threatened by lack of inclusivity both at gender and youth level.
“Development is threatened by bad governance where we see nepotism, illicit financial flows and lack of direction. But we are seeing a changing tide, an Africa which is recognising the need for transparency and accountability. An Africa which is no longer a continent with promise but one which now needs to be counted as we already have the talent and expertise.’’
Nkhutabasa called for investors to seriously consider the opportunities available in Malawi and beyond.
In his contribution, Phiri added his insight on the opportunities available in Malawi and Africa as a whole by saying ‘‘I present to you an Africa that is able, an Africa that is no more a challenge but an opportunity.’’
Phiri, called for investors to explore the different sectors of agriculture, healthcare, education, energy, tourism and technology in Malawi.
Phiri centred his arguments around the now-defunct global development blueprint Millennium Development Goals (MDG)s and its immediate successor Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which was adopted in 2015 by global leaders at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
“It is wishful thinking that any government can achieve SGDs without the participation of the private sector. As you are aware that ending poverty has more to do with keeping someone busy with an income generating activity. With the private sector accounting for 90 percent of jobs in developing countries, foreign investment has a critical role to play in achieving the SDGs,” said Phiri.
He therefore encouraged governments in Third World countries to disinvest in money-making institutions while creating a platform for partnerships with private sector players as is the case with Malawi’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) policy.
Phiri also noted that there is need for enhanced investment in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which drive innovation and entrepreneurship forward.
The event brought together business leaders from across globe and they left with a deeper knowledge of the opportunities in Africa; how businesses need to rethink on how they invest and contribute to society in line with the SDGs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :