Also attending are high-level government officials, donors, and representatives of international organizations.
“This conference is very timely, coming at a point of lasting opportunity for Africa,” said Mahmoud Mohieldin, Managing Director of the World Bank. “The continent is poised to build on an encouraging pattern of growth and become an increasingly vibrant destination of investment. I see an important role for the Bank in helping governments, the business community, and other interested parties in both developed and developing countries to work together to increase awareness of the benefits of responsible business practices, and the instruments they can use to create incentives for companies to integrate these practices as a routine feature of corporate strategy.”
The business environment throughout Africa has improved significantly in recent years. Before the global economic crisis, Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) was growing steadily by approximately 6% annually. Between 2001 and 2008, foreign direct investment more than doubled and the private sector grew robustly throughout the continent.
However, insufficient infrastructure, an unfavorable investment climate, and weak governance still persist and constrain long-term economic growth. The private sector is an increasingly important partner in driving social and economic growth and development.
Governments, civil society organizations, international financial institutions, and donors have recognized these limitations and are actively looking to develop innovative partnerships, particularly with the private sector to promote good governance and foster inclusive, responsible, and sustainable growth across Africa.
“The current global economic climate is creating an investment bug in Africa that is proving contagious,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa. “This new Afro-optimism must be accompanied by responsible investment in order for it to support the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Innovative partnerships with and within the private sector can further ongoing efforts to improve the social and political environment for business in Africa.”
To support the African Private Sector’s efforts to become more responsible and accountable, the World Bank Institute, in collaboration with the Belgian Government and other partners, has developed a new program on Strengthening Responsible Business and Governance in Africa.
“This event provides an important opportunity to exchange good practices on responsible business environment,” said Sanjay Pradhan, Vice-President of the World Bank Institute. “The Middle East and North Africa region has introduced a Responsible Business Network, which has successfully promoted responsible business standards and corporate social responsibility. This event seeks to share similar innovations across the globe, and create a responsible business network for Africa that will strengthen transparency in key areas such as procurement and better governance of extractive industries.”