iEcoAfrica is a network of actors and entities embedding a culture of sustainability in the ecosystems around and inside organisations in Africa. Our value chain consists of sustainability communications, trade, investment and consultancy. We use varying communications medium, including Environmental, Economic, Social, Governance Reporting and Disclosure frameworks to communicate an organisations value creation. We build expertise in general management, guide practical experience and develop a network of skills and knowledge that offer the best returns to investors, customers and community stakeholders. Our Unique Selling Point is our ability to create project partners that deliver technical prowess, financing and stakeholder engagement that results in a social license to operate. Our current strategic focus is Agri-business and Renewable Energy Economies.
Africa Green Revolution Forum 2017 (AGRF)
After securing political, policy, and financial commitments of more than US $30 billion at AGRF 2016, African leaders aim to create jobs and drive economies for agriculture.
The global HIV/AIDS epidemic - progress and challenges
On July 20, UNAIDS released their annual report on the status of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, which also includes a comprehensive analysis of progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat. The latest epidemiological estimates and programmatic data from 168 countries in all regions were reviewed. Worldwide, AIDS-related deaths have declined from a peak of about 1·9 million in 2005 to around 1·0 million in 2016, largely due to treatment scale-up—for the first time more than half of people with HIV are estimated to be on treatment. Since 2010, the annual number of new infections in all age groups has decreased by 16% to around 1·8 million in 2016. However, progress is variable, and despite a global downward trend in the epidemic, several regions are experiencing sharp increases in new infections and struggling to expand treatment.
In 2014, to accelerate progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 goals. The goals are that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of people receiving ART will achieve viral suppression. The report states that considerable progress has been made towards the 90-90-90 targets, but there are gaps along the continuum that vary across regions. Globally, more than two-thirds of people living with HIV knew their status in 2016. Around 77% of them were on treatment, and 82% of those on treatment had suppressed viral loads. In 2016, around 19·5 million people with HIV (53%) were on treatment, up from 17·1 million in 2015.
If reached, the 90-90-90 targets translate into 73% of all people living with HIV being virally suppressed. Botswana, Cambodia, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK already achieve or exceed this target, and 11 other countries are moving closer. However, the report notes that globally when the gaps along the cascade are combined, only 43% of all people living with HIV were virally suppressed in 2016, which is far lower than the final target, which means many regions are not on track to meet the 2020 target.
Progress in the world's most affected areas, eastern and southern Africa, has been striking. With rapid scaling up of treatment in combination with existing prevention interventions, AIDS-related deaths have nearly halved in the past 6 years. New infections have declined from around 1·1 million to about 790 000, a 29% reduction. The region's progress across the three 90s is comparable with that in Latin America, and if progress is sustained both are likely to achieve the targets alongside western and central Europe and North America, which have already met the 2020 goal.
Progress is less positive elsewhere. In the Middle East and north Africa, trends vary, and although numbers of new infections seem stable since 2010, AIDS-related mortality has increased in the past decade. In the same period in eastern Europe and central Asia, the number of new infections has risen to 190 000 in 2016, a 60% increase. The region's HIV epidemic is mainly within two countries: Russia and Ukraine. People who inject drugs accounted for 42% of new HIV infections in the region in 2015. In both countries, there are large gaps across the 90-90-90 continuum. HIV testing and treatment coverage are low. Key populations in these regions are unable to access services and linkage to care is weak. These regions are unlikely to meet the 90-90-90 target.
The report points out challenges across all regions. Late diagnosis in key populations counteracts the potential effects of treatment as prevention in the general population. Gaps in the 90–90–90 continuum are greater for men, young people, and key populations. Women continue to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Criminalisation, stigma, and discrimination act as barriers to key populations entering care programmes. Funding too is a concern with resources falling short of global commitments.
The report emphasises that there is no room for complacency. Indeed, 53% of all people living with HIV being on ART means that another 17 million people with HIV are not. Indeed, in a letter in this week's Lancet, Brian Williams and Reuben Granich call for an urgent review of the assumptions used to calculate the effect of ART on rates of new infections and AIDS-related mortality. Current approaches need to be more efficient, and innovations around diagnosis, treatment, service delivery, and surveillance and monitoring need to be brought to bear.
The UNAIDS annual report is a vital benchmark for identifying progress, successes, shortfalls, and gaps in tackling the global HIV epidemic. The use of the 90-90-90 goals provides a useful framework that can help countries prioritise their paths and actions toward an AIDS-free world. But what actions will now follow?
Husbands' return migration and wives' occupational choices
Exploiting the documented effect of migration on occupational choice upon return to their origin country with data from Egypt, we establish a link between return migration of men and their wives' time use through within-couple occupational interdependence. Seemingly Unrelated Regression model estimates suggest that being married to a migrant who opted for self-employment upon return decreases a woman's likelihood to engage in paid work, and increases her likelihood to engage in family work and subsistence farming, at both the extensive and intensive margins. This is pronounced for rural families, and when husbands work in agriculture. Results differ by education level, illiterate wives engaging significantly more in paid as well as unpaid work compared to more educated women. Findings are consistent with theoretical models of occupational interdependence between spouses and assortative mating; they highlight the need to buffer potentially depriving migration-induced effects on women's time use, even once migration is complete.
Keywords: International migration, Return migration, Gender, Time use, Entrepreneurship, North Africa, Egypt
An exploratory analysis of measures to make trade facilitation work for inclusive regional agro-food value chains in West Africa
Authors: Torres, C., Seters, J. van, Karaki, K., Kpadonou, R. 2017. An exploratory analysis of measures to make trade facilitation work for inclusive regional agro-food value chains in West Africa. (Discussion Paper 214). Maastricht: ECDPM.
Spurred by growing populations, increasing purchasing power and rapid urbanisation, demand for food in West Africa is growing rapidly, and the composition of this demand is changing. West Africa is increasingly importing food from outside the region, as the region faces a huge challenge in attempting to meet food demand through regional production and trade. Intra-regional food trade is mainly informal and generally considered to be well below its potential. In this context, the region and its member states seek to support the development of regional agro-food value chains and to improve the functioning of the regional market. This transpires from policy frameworks such as the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP), the UEMOA Agricultural Policy (PAU) and the West African Common Industrial Policy (WACIP).
This study seeks to contribute to reflections and actions in this area, by looking at how corridor initiatives focused on trade facilitation could be made more ‘transformative’ by combining them with other developmental measures, in this paper referred to as “accompanying measures”. It focuses on the examples of the rice and livestock (cattle and small ruminants) value chains and takes political economy dimensions into account. Geographically, the study focuses on a particular subregion within West Africa, comprising the “Central Basin” and Senegal and Nigeria.
- In West Africa, better performing regional agro-food value chains are seen as crucial for meeting growing demand for food and for contributing to inclusive economic growth, employment creation, poverty reduction and enhanced food and nutrition security.
- Promoting regional agro-food value chains, however, requires coordination between different policy areas, not least between agriculture, trade, private sector development and infrastructure development.
- Corridor initiatives, which are crucial for connecting Sahelian countries to global markets, could be more ‘transformative’ and supportive of regional agro-food value chains if they combined trade facilitation and infrastructure development with ‘accompanying measures’.
- For example, West Africa’s rice and livestock value chains would benefit from measures to ensure: better road linkages to production areas; a strategic knowledge and communication agenda; effective public-private cooperation; and a more conducive trade policy environment.
Automation and Inequality: The Changing World of Work in the Global South
Automation and inequality: the changing world of work in the global South
Book/Report, 36 pages
Governments and businesses in the developing world can help protect people's jobs and livelihoods from the damaging effects of automation and rapid technological change. This can be done by refocusing their economic and social policies to make them more sustainable and fair.
This paper examines the relationship between rapid technological change, inequality and sustainable development. Existing research shows that in other sectors, agricultural smallholders may lose out under increasingly automated agribusiness as distribution systems are changed. Digital technology will mostly benefit skilled workers at the expense of those less skilled.
But growing inequality is not inevitable. Governments in the developing world need to introduce reforms early on that will shift their economies' focus. By moving the dependence on manufacturing before these jobs are replaced and preparing for the changes that automation and other technological developments will bring, governments can help protect men and women's livelihoods.
From Boardrooms to Battlefields
Picture Credit: "The United Nations Global Compact Delegation to the 2010 Leaders Summit" by Juley Baker. CC BY-SA 4.0, accessed via Wikimedia Commons.
Long thought to be a rarefied calling for diplomats or dedicated activists, global peacebuilders are being pushed to accept a new player into their ranks: international business. Attempting to shed their post-Cold War reputations as conflict profiteers, transnational firms today from Shell and Starbucks to Chevron and Heineken are undertaking peacebuilding ventures within some of the most fragile, impoverished, and conflict-affected regions of the world. Governments, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) like the United Nations and the World Bank, and even some international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have all started to bring businesses aboard in public-private partnerships that try to stimulate peaceful development through poverty reduction, socio-economic growth, and inclusive negotiation.
Moreover, with IGOs like the United Nations increasingly unable to address the proliferating number of conflicts across the globe, businesses are even asked to contribute to peace amid the belief that their help is not only mutually adventageous but, in fact, necessary. The UN Global Compact (UNGC) has ramped up its engagements with their 8,000-strong network of businesses that have subscribed to their sustainability principles, launching a Business for Peace platform to mobilize corporate leadership and encourage direct private sector peace action. The United Nations has also included business stakeholders in their new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. And many in the private sector are thrilled, as once-wary INGOs tell them that what they already do anyway—helping to increase GDPs and expand markets—can now be presented as key and lasting ingredients to peace.
Peace rhetoric is also growing within firms themselves, in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and attempts to implement conflict-sensitive business practices. A host of stakeholders are driving the push: shareholders who want more responsible firms, the international community of governments, IGOs and INGOs who see businesses as essential peace participants, and local governments and communities who want firms to contribute more to societal improvements through everything from development projects to a joint response to the European refugee crisis. And some firms aren’t afraid to market their efforts. For example, while most consider traditional efforts like that of the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce in Cyprus’s multi-decade peace process to be a peacebuilding activity, the firms that jumped to engage with Myanmar’s military regime after its economic opening say that they should be called peace-builders too, and rewarded as such.
In the absence of a clear definition of ‘peace,’ the business-peace field today is a Wild West of opportunities for companies to make their mark. What is missing is systematized evidence to categorize the wide variety of claims about how companies do—or don’t— support peace. Business for Peace echoes the idea of a ‘liberal peace,’ which has become an ideology in its own right. The UNGC declares that “the private sector can make important contributions” to peace, as the World Bank similarly posits the “catalytic role” of business in conflict reduction. Yet IGOs call for more investment in places where corporate activity is already exacerbating conflict, and the UNGC’s own report that “initiatives to promote conflict-sensitive practices have not been widely embraced and have not yielded a cumulative positive benefit to conflict-affected communities” is broadly ignored. Exuberance appears to have overtaken any commitment to understanding why what is working is working, and why what is not is not.
In the absence of a clear definition of ‘peace,’ the business-peace field today is a Wild West of opportunities for companies to make their mark.
To make sense of it all, we surveyed a broad swath of recent ventures where firms have acted effectively as peacebuilders as well as places where they have simply made conflict and violence worse. Synthesizing many of today’s implicit assumptions, we present five contemporary business actions that arguably advance peace: (1) growing markets and economically integrating regions to facilitate a peace dividend; (2) encouraging local development to grow local peace capacities; (3) importing international norms to improve democratic accountability; (4) changing the drivers or root causes of conflict; and (5) undertaking direct diplomatic efforts with conflict actors. We show that while some see ingenious initiatives brimming with possibilities, others see this as ‘peacewashing’ at best and corporate exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable at worst. We take a measured stance, finding that firms can become effective peacebuilders, but must tread carefully through societal minefields—and their own divergent interests—to get there.
Action I: Businesses Grow Markets that Create a ‘Peace Dividend’
Businesses bring countries and communities together. Or so goes the belief that through trade, economic growth, and capital injections, businesses provide the fundamental building blocks of development and peace to fragile countries. It’s a core paradigm of international political economy, associated with a who’s-who of historical heavy hitters in economics and philosophy, including John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and, more recently, Francis Fukuyama and the Washington Consensus of policy prescriptions supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. If it is believed that economic ties make would-be advesaries less inclined to fight, generating local economic development through foreign investment can lead to peace. It is therefore ‘bad business’ to engage in conflict, and a ‘peace dividend’ of increased prosperity for all will result. While policies to boost economies in an effort to create more stable societies can be traced back centuries, the belief that prosperity equals peace (and thus more prosperity is peace-building) is more recent.
Today, this stance holds that economic development promises to reduce all types of conflict, and reframes corporate expansion as the proverbial plowshares. Examples include firms aiding the transition from a war to peace economy by helping to normalize trade and provide essential revenue streams (such as in post-2011 Myanmar), moving early into post-conflict or nearly post-conflict environments to solidify fragile economies (as in investment by resource firms in Kurdistan and Afghanistan), creating economic interdependence across geographic boundaries (like the European Economic Community/European Union). If businesses improve material conditions, conflict incentives are reduced, which in turn leads to more satisfied and peaceful populaces.
Action II: Businesses Make Peace by Bolstering Local Development Capacities
Another peace truism is that responsive and inclusive institutions reduce conflict; therefore, businesses should build local development capacities in their operational areas, which will facilitate local peace. Key members of the peacebuilding community have been drawing international businesses into development for three reasons: first, they believe that better corporate governance is in itself a conflict-sensitive peacebuilding venture; second, that inclusive collaborative action to mitigate local socio-economic ills can lead to broader societal peace; and third, to make use of corporate coffers in resource-scarce settings. Such assertions align seamlessly with corporate CSR goals, allowing firms to demonstrate good corporate citizenship by making a positive governance contribution.
Beginning largely as public relations efforts, CSR departments have grown rapidly. Today, they’re also development tools as firms try to deflect conflict and generate ‘shared value’ by being socially valuable local actors, often promoted through ‘win-win’ profit and peace metrics. Examples include corporate investment in peacebuilding like Newmont Gold’s recognition of Ghana’s Peace Councils in its grievance resolution processes, and Barrick Gold’s support for municipal planning and service delivery in the Dominican Republic. IGOs like the World Bank highlight job creation to promote peace and social cohesion, especially through establishing inclusive and diverse workplaces. An NGO-corporate alliance managing the Virunga Park in Eastern Congo aims to create a corporate ‘peace zone’ around the park, arguing that private sector jobs for rebels and poachers will secure its precious flora and fauna. Employment is thus not only an economic benefit, but also promotes trust, reduces stereotypes, and offers an alternative to fighting. Business motivations for peace essentially take a back seat to operational effectiveness, or as Starbucks Coffee CEO Howard Schultz framed his firm’s impressive CSR portfolio: “This is not altruistic; this is business.”
Action III: Businesses Influence Peace by Importing International Democratic Norms
The philosophy of leading by example also drives business-peace calculations. The belief is that when international (typically Western) firms import sophisticated standards, norms, and ethics, the structural conditions for peace are improved, changing local institutional incentives. Firms reward good behavior through additional investment, or punish bad behavior by withdrawing—and removing the tax bases that their operations provide. Other initiatives include business compliance and risk mitigation strategies, believing that being good corporate citizens will reshape the conduct of those involved. This approach encourages buy-ins that firms find predictable and achievable, as they promise a competitive engagement with governments, as opposed to negotiating with rebel groups or other less predictable actors.
Corporations working in conflict zones are slowly accepting the notion that they are ‘of the conflict’ from their very presence, and that this presence has consequences. By adhering to global standards such as the Voluntary Principles, they often require higher standards of conduct from their local security providers, in contexts where these are usually considered part of the problem. Activities include training local security forces with the help of the international community, working with anti-corruption watchdogs to support initiatives in corrupt countries (such as Transparency International’s partnership on OECD anti-bribery efforts), strengthening the voice of local government and civil society (such as the Tintaya copper mine dialogue table in Peru by BHP Billiton), and partnering on global trends that are presumed to exacerbate local conflict, including the business Caring For Climate initiative launched alongside the COP21 Paris Climate Summit and involvement in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More ethical business practices are thought to percolate positively throughout broader society, making democratic and non-violent means of redress more realistic and possible.
Action IV: Businesses Build Peace by Tackling the Drivers and Root Causes of Conflict
Some firms try to act on issues that they see as causing or exacerbating conflict. These drivers can be economic, political, or structural in nature, and the thinking is that if material conditions on the ground can be improved, the root causes of conflict are addressed and the incentives for conflict are reduced. For firms, this often means attempting to stop financial flows to conflict actors. Examples include getting businesses to sign on to the Kimberley Process for diamonds, conflict-free minerals initiatives in Central Africa, efforts to prevent the sale of oil from ISIS-held areas, and preventing payment of royalties/taxes to oppressive regimes. Big INGOs like Global Witness and International Alert advocate that more open trade and finance regimes can stop wars—and that getting businesses to stop dealing with oppressive regimes and rebel movements can force peace. In support, many firms have instituted conflict sensitive business practice toolkits. Firms often see these initiatives helping to prevent abuses while also reducing incentives for themselves and competitors to operate unethically. These actions can also be positively presented to shareholders, activists, and others as proof that they are helping contribute to peace.
Businesses also attempt to address root causes of insecurity that are assumed to lead to violence. For example, in Sri Lanka, it was the business community that facilitated the peace process. Juan Valdez coffee farmers and other firms in Colombia have hired former rebels during post-conflict peace processes, and HDW, a private security firm operating in the Eastern Congo city of Goma, employs a large proportion of demobilized rebels. In the tense borderland between North and South Korea, a firm operating an export-processing zone puts employees from both parties of the conflict together. And business organizations have partnered with governments and international bodies to pressure regimes with discriminatory policies to achieve political change that is assumed to bring peace, as in boycotts designed to pressure the South African apartheid policy. Such actions undoubtedly have important financial and public relations benefits, but are underpinned in the belief that if each corporate citizen does its part to re-integrate peace into society, both business and society will reap lasting rewards.
Action V: Businesses Make Peace by Direct Diplomatic Efforts with Conflict Actors
Finally, businesses can directly participate in peace processes and conflict resolution negotiations. Here we find business actors acting as mediators, providing a vested stake in moving peace processes forward to “yes.” This can take several forms: by being at the table as peace process participants, as mediators, entering into business partnerships with former conflict elites to encourage their reintegration into society, or in using their local economic power to leverage recalcitrant or disinterested actors to come to the peace table. Business leaders who actively pursue peace are often celebrated, and their leadership is presumed to inspire others to action.
To improve the peace climate, a firm might facilitate a dialogue process between warring factions, as Chevron did in Papua New Guinea by hiring trained mediators, believing that there is a causal link between dialogue, grievances, and peace. Even though Chevron’s activities had little to do with the local dispute, the fighting made the business environment more fragile, so they were incentivized to contribute toward its cessation. In this sense, ‘peacebuilding’ is also risk and impact management for the firm. Other examples abound, including the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce’s role in the Cyprus peace processes and the efforts of South African and international firms during Apartheid to support the democratic transition. Often spearheaded by individual businesspeople, these sorts of activities are not without political and reputational risk.
Should Businesses Really Be in This Business?
These five actions seem altruistic and benign, but are also fiercely contested as part of the battle over who will get to define, make and implement ‘peace.’ Our research shows that detractors fall along three primary lines: those who say that these actions don’t have any real impact; those who say that these actions are done outside of core competencies and simply cause new problems; and those who say that the entire premise is merely a front for deeper penetration into the corporate greenfields of the world. We take each in turn.
First, does business engagement really produce peace? The answer, unfortunately, is: ‘it depends,’ and often, business itself is complicit in driving conflict. AngloGold Ashanti, Anvil Mining, and American Mineral Fields aided rebels to secure mining rights in Congo. Relationships between trade and peace are murky, with trade often thriving despite any advances towards peace. Many business ventures in conflict zones support double-digit GDP growth rates in elite enclaves, while conflict and poverty rage unabated in other parts of the country. Empirical links between corporate standards and peace generation are also tenuous, as institutional reforms that attract investment may have little to do with broader reform that could create a new social contract, and firms complain of the difficulty of implementing standards in the best of circumstances, let alone in conflict-affected areas.
CSR ventures are also problematic, often amounting to little more than PR ventures that have little effect on the ground. While some professional CSR operations are genuine in their intentions, their policies only carry limited influence upon core corporate deliberations. Some companies instead use the cover of CSR to increase their local security budgets, allowing the suppression of local resistance to contested operations. Further, new morality-based CSR approaches linking ethics, activities, norms, and responsibilities are often too complicated to implement across larger companies; CSR is not a strong in-house strategic platform for generating business value, and host governments are wary of foreign CSR ‘contributions’ meddling with local authority. Critics also ask if expanding corporate reach in fact keeps host states weak by reducing local capacity. Because of these and other issues, some in the business community itself are tiring of the CSR concept, looking to move to the next big idea that can generate positive social impact.
Second, business activity can and has worsened some generalized conflict drivers such as inequality. In resource-poor societies, mining new resources often adds another layer of competition between conflict actors, rebutting the assumption that more business makes more peace. Large new investments can calcify strongmen and their cronies to permanent power, reducing political space for civil society or marginalized groups and fan new cycles of violence, as oil wealth has done in Nigeria. The fluid nature of complex inter-group grievances makes these waters exceptionally tricky to navigate, even for those firms with the willingness to recognize and act on the local drivers of conflict. Business operations can also exacerbate other conflict drivers, such as exclusion and marginalization, as investment or joint venture partners typically represent dominant societal groups.
More broadly, there is an inherent difficulty in ‘solving’ root causes of political violence. Businesses may not be the best actors to identify and address those, as their motivations can differ or even contradict those of other peacebuilding agents. Reflecting that reducing conflict alone is not necessarily peacebuilding (it can simply be suppression), firms must also pick winners and losers, and these tend to be pro-government, anti-insurgent actors due to corporate desires for security and market access. And even leaving conflict zones in order to ‘do no harm’ can leave a void for corporations of lower ethical inclination to fill. To wit, Talisman Oil was shamed out of the former Sudan after it was shamed for complicity with the Sudanese government in targeting non-muslims in South Sudan; this gap was filled by Indian firm ONGC Videsh, who was even less inclined to consider its local impact or join western-led peace initiatives.
Third, the harshest critics see deeper involvement of businesses in fragile conflict zones as neo-colonial exploitation. They warn that privileging business in the peace and development space will warp international agendas towards corporate interests and further marginalize the broader population from control over their own political futures. Beyond the simplistic ‘conflict for profit’ frame that some firms exploited in the 1990s, today’s projects like B4P are accused of being a new generation of corporate window-dressing to operate in contentious areas. These pro-business pushes are said to rest on spurious assumptions. Namely, that national actors care about and are invested in adherence to international standards; that links between norms, standards, and peacebuilding are clearly drawn; that international watchdogs have real teeth; that justice and transparency make peace in conflict-ridden societies; and, not least, that businesses are beacons of best practice on all of the above.
Practical issues have arisen as well. Firms are increasingly confronted with ethical dilemmas like roadblock economies, where checkpoint payments by businesses to rebels can worsen local conflict through the very mechanisms necessary to secure local market access. Evidence from Afghanistan, Congo, and Colombia indicate that business operations have made wars worse through these payoffs even as they promise that corporate presence will bring local development. Worse, what many businesses and INGOs might call ‘inclusive community empowerment’ can be labeled by local actors—especially in repressive regimes or ethnically divided societies—as enabling ‘dangerous resistance movements’ or ‘anti-nationalist.’ Further, these well-meaning initiatives can also create new conflict fissures by eroding local government capacity as its duties are farmed out to foreign entities. This ‘corporate paternalism’ harkens back to the colonial past and the United States a century ago when company towns asserted absolute control over goods, services, and even governance of local populations.
From Action to Impact: Taking Business and Peace Forward
Of course, most firms are well aware of how messy (and unprofitable) these ventures can be in practice. So why do they still want to expand their peacebuilding presence? New strategic incentives are at play, including the aspirational elements of how pro-peace actions support a visible, positive corporate culture, and the impression of a virtuous firm; the belief that a corporation can go beyond ‘responsibilities’ to a re-thinking the role of business in society that incentivizes peace action; and a more general CEO mindset that is about more than making money. These thrusts can come from shareholders, boards, or management training, and increasingly mandate business action to try to facilitate peace.
Moreover, IGOs and business scholars are already moving beyond CSR into political and diplomatic engagement realms. The United Nations has integrated business into its Responsibility to Protect and Responsibility While Protecting platforms, and perhaps no initiative epitomizes this shift better than the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (BAHR), the first global standard on how businesses should protect human rights. The belief is that if firms comply with this and other international rights principles, they will ipso facto contribute to peace—regardless of the fact that the initiatives themselves fall outside the scope of what most academics and practitioners call ‘peacebuilding.’ It may also be punitive, as ongoing UN sessions are working to draft a “legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.” There remain major gaps between the public fanfare of businesses becoming signatories to BAHR frameworks and the complexity of actionable human rights guidance (or legitimate punitive threats), but deeper and more comprehensive business engagements into peace arenas continue to multiply.
But how businesses integrate peace action within their corporate structure is more complicated and institutional change to forward societal value has been hard to do.Interaction effects between large firms and their local subsidiaries on CSR and peace also matter. Our research on Heineken and its Bralima subsidiary in the Congo showed how HQ was vocal about their CSR goals, but pressured local staff to focus instead on raising profits and increasing market share. Still, with an increasing push on not if businesses should be involved, but how we can discover the right conditions for impact, international businesses in particular are primed to become more deeply involved in the double-edged sword of peace engagement.
Going forward, who gets to define what constitutes a ‘business-peace contribution’ may be the biggest predictor of how deep these interactions truly get. Firms argue that researchers need to quantify the costs and benefits for business to proactively improve upon the conditions of conflict that best facilitate involvement in peacebuilding, and need definable metrics for when they should and shouldn’t intervene. However, conflict triggers that spur firms to action often generate only development initiatives—positive outcomes MNCs pride themselves for—which are unlikely to generate peace or mitigate conflict. Ultimately, B4P might be laudable simply because it gets businesses to commit to ‘peace undefined,’ creating a space for NGOs and other stakeholders to then engage, contend, and expand what exactly is or ought to be at stake.
These developments portend a deep sense of urgency to better understand business-peace actions to allow for more conscientious guidance. Our research suggests that the most effective engagements do not arise from pre-conceived notions of which business actions promote peace, but require grounded fieldwork for each specific operational setting, making the concrete peace outcomes by different stakeholders explicit. Even the seemingly most positive, ‘win-win’ business-peace action, if implemented hastily, can have unintended consequences. While this undoubtedly makes it harder to operationalize peacebuilding for business, it is much more likely that long-term results will be more robust for the firm and of deeper value to the local communities who should always be regarded as the ultimate peacebuilders.
Smart industrialisation through trade in the context of Africa's transformation
Africa's experience of industrialisation has been disappointing. Globally, the share of manufacturing in total output rises with per capita income until countries reach upper-middle-income status, then declines as services become more prevalent at higher incomes; however, this has not been the case in Africa. Fresh thinking is needed on how to achieve Africa’s industrialisation objectives, and trade has a key role to play.
This brief, produced in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, explores how the idea of using trade and trade policy to support industrialisation has experienced a recent resurgence, and provides a set of policy recommendations for African economies looking to industrialise smartly through trade.
Less Labor, More Profit for Benin's Cassava Farmers
Even so, cassava farming and processing is a labor-intensive activity. Farmers must harvest cassava tubers, peel and grind them into a white pulp, and then process them to squeeze out the remaining water and starch before fermenting over several days. The work it takes to create value-added products like garri only adds to the grueling process. Members of Mialebouni often had to travel long distances to use processing units and sometimes, women would enlist the help of their children to assist with harvesting and processing, which took them away from school.
In 2012, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), a Feed the Future interagency partner, gave Mialebouni a $150,000 capacity-building grant, followed by a $240,000 enterprise expansion grant in 2016 to improve the labor-intensive process of cassava farming.
Mialebouni used the grant to purchase innovative, mobile processing stations designed to meet their members’ needs, reduce hardships and increase profits. The mobile grinders and presses can be transported by bicycle to provide processing services in several villages. Now, members save time and money by traveling shorter distances to process their harvests, and can also work at communal processing centers and use their services for a small fee. Other features include garri-fortification to increase nutrition, fuel-efficient cookstoves to reduce firewood, and packaging equipment to increase sanitation standards.
The mobile processing equipment is small but mighty—it has saved Mialebouni’s members countless hours of travel time and is helping them better feed their families. Members can rapidly process cassava harvests using the reliable and efficient equipment, increase their incomes with better quality products, and feed their children fortified products. In Benin, where 45 percent of young children suffer from chronic malnutrition, garri fortified with pineapple and coconut can make a big difference for growing children.
USADF is also working with the Government of Benin to support cassava farming. The Government has matched USADF funding of $500,000 annually, and since 2012, USADF and the Government of Benin have invested over $5 million in food security and economic development, doubling the annual quantity of cassava processed and supporting over 27,000 farmers, half of whom are women.
Being a USADF grantee also means that Mialebouni and operations similar to it now have access to a local technical partner that can help them strengthen their organization's financial management. To support their members, Mialebouni is working with Action Pour la Promotion des Initiatives Communautaires (APIC) to increase financial literacy and enable the women to track their own production and sales. Access to this type of training ensures that USADF support is also helping create long-lasting operations.
Today, the Mialebouni Association is sustainably growing from a small association to a commercial enterprise: Mialebouni sales and revenues of value-added products have tripled since 2012. The association is now a major competitor in local and regional markets and has even hosted several exchange visits with delegations from other neighboring countries, including USADF grantees from Liberia, to learn about cassava processing.
"Thanks to this partnership, Mialebouni and its members have increased their incomes, can send their children to school, and some are even running for local office,” Sossa Bernadette said. “We are well-known and respected in our community."
OPIC Helps Farmers Flourish with Access to Water
Water is essential to life. Water is also essential to agriculture.Access to water has a crucial impact on farming practices and food production. In many countries where Feed the Future works, smallholder farmers struggle with the limited availability of water and are dependent on a generous rainy season. If the rains come late or only sporadically, farmers see little to no crop yields, and the community is left with food shortages. The unavailability of water also limits farmers’ ability to practice subsistence agriculture that can provide food all year round.
To solve this problem, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a Feed the Future interagency partner, is developing innovative approaches to increase water access by partnering with private companies that can reach the world’s most vulnerable farmers.
In 2011, OPIC provided a $4.75 million loan to the Participatory Microfinance Group in Africa (PAMIGA), an impact investment microfinance institution. PAMIGA’s microfinance facilities offer loans to farmers in countries such as Kenya and Tanzania so that they can extend their agricultural activities throughout the dry season.
PAMIGA is providing both capital and technical trainings to individual farmers in water-insecure communities. This enables them to buy and implement irrigation systems on their land so farmers can grow crops throughout the year. It also drives up the profitability of agriculture, as farmers produce more and sell their goods during the dry season at up to five times the price they would have fetched during the rainy season. The loans are expected to reach almost 100,000 farmers.
Irrigation systems, and the knowledge to implement and operate them, are also yielding incredible benefits to communities that rely on agriculture for income and nutrition. In Tanzania, farmers supported by PAMIGA are helping to combat chronic undernutrition, the largest contributor to mortality for children under five. Communities are increasing the availability of nutritious food for their children, and are now farming in areas where it was previously impossible to do so. In Kenya, where only 20 percent of the land is arable and suitable for growing crops, this is a boon to the local economy and the health of families.
Helping smallholder farmers move out of subsistence farming is creating long-lasting development impacts and making communities more resilient. Before, farmers worried about being able to produce enough for their families to survive throughout the year. With sustainable farming practices, food producers are increasing yields and building buffers against poverty as they enter new markets to sell their products. Farmers are improving their livelihoods and can better secure their futures—even if the rains don’t come.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is one of 11 agencies and departments working together under Feed the Future to combat global hunger and poverty. OPIC mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges. The agency works with American small businesses and companies to help them enter new markets, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities.
Racial disparities in HIV
In The Lancet HIV, Steven Goodreau and colleagues report the results of network modelling studies to investigate the sources of disparities in prevalence of HIV infection between black and white men who have sex with men (MSM).1 The higher prevalence among black MSM is a well recognised public health problem,2 and evidence that the number of cases among young black MSM has increased adds urgency to understanding the discrepancy.3 Literature reviews and meta-analyses have consistently shown little difference in reported sexual risk behaviours between black and white MSM, but have also shown that black MSM have lower access to HIV-related medical care, use such care less often, and are of lower socioeconomic status than their white counterparts.
Download PDF Racial Disparities in HIV. Published Online April 18, 2017 Richard Davies Burt, Sara Nelson Glick
Fishing for Business Opportunities in Nigeria
In Nigeria, which consumes nearly two million metric tons of fish per year, fish farming is a huge business opportunity. A key ingredient in many Nigerian national dishes, fish is an important source of protein that will see booming demand as the country’s population grows.
But the fish sector is facing a challenge: Nigeria imports more than half of the fish its people eat and the price of imported fish has increased significantly because of the devaluation of Nigeria’s national currency.
Even in areas that have suitable water resources for fish farming, like the Kano and Sagamu regions, farmers lack the technical knowledge required to take advantage of this business opportunity. They also lack access to hatcheries that supply the juvenile fish they need to profitably expand fish farming.
Nigerian company Chi Farms is working to change this by helping small-scale farmers – primarily women – tap into this opportunity.
Chi Farms is partnering with the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation Program to increase its capacity to supply juvenile fish to farmers and build teams of aquaculture specialists to provide extension services.
The company is building two new hatcheries that will produce one million juvenile fish per year and will provide access to farmers in previously underserved geographical areas.
Chi Farms’ client focus teams–which consist of local aquaculture specialists–will also help farmers who have little to no experience with aquaculture build successful businesses. Farmers will receive training in good aquaculture practices, financial management, and farming as a business.
Client focus teams will also help more experienced fish farmers set up demonstration ponds to educate farmers in their communities and highlight the business potential of fish farming. Once established, farmers will have the opportunity to sell some of their fish back to Chi Farms for processing or sell directly to fresh fish markets. The client focus teams will provide additional guidance and marketing support to farmers at this stage.
Smallholder maize and soy farmers in Nigeria are also benefitting. As more farmers pursue fish farming, they are increasing demand for maize and soy for aquaculture feed production. This demand generates more income opportunities for grain farmers, contributing to the overall economic growth of communities.
By providing farmers with inputs and technical support, Chi Farms is helping small-scale farmers grow their businesses and create a reliable, thriving aquaculture market in Nigeria.
Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation is a USAID-funded program that invests in private sector partnerships to commercialize agricultural innovations in smallholder markets.
The need to customise innovation indicators in developing countries
Innovation is becoming more and more important as a driver of economic growth. In developed countries, a diverse set of innovation indicators has been developed to monitor innovation performance and the impact of innovation policies. Developing countries have been late to jump on this bandwagon and are now faced with a set of well-established innovation indicators that might not be that well suited to measure innovation in their economies.
Existing innovation indicators can be broadly classified into three different types: Science & Technology (S&T) indicators, Innovation survey indicators, and Composite innovation indicators combining different indicators, including S&T and Innovation survey data, into one indicator. All of these have their own particular strengths and weaknesses, and they score above or below average on a wide range of attributes considered to be favourable, if not downright necessary, for innovation indicators.
This paper argues that, for innovation indicators, and for innovation survey indicators in particular, data collection has to be customised to the different socio-economic structures of developing countries. For this, the definition of innovation has to become more inclusive by recognising the multitude of innovation actors and processes in developing countries. Developing countries also need to build competence regarding innovation indicators, not only within their statistical systems but also among their policy makers.
JEL Classification: O38, O32, O29, P47
Keywords: innovation, indicators, developing countries, policy use
Economic diversification: Explaining the pattern of diversification in the global economy and its implications for fostering diversification in poorer countries
Economic diversification is very relevant for poorer developing countries to create jobs and foster economic development. That need has been recognised in key internationally agreed development goals. The empirical economic literature has identified several stylised facts about the pattern of diversification of economies, but the development of explanations for those patterns in general has been only loosely associated with economic theory on growth, trade, technology change and structural transformation. Making that connection is relevant because it could inform policymakers in developing countries in designing and implementing policies for promoting diversification. This paper presents a model of structural economic dynamics and endogenous technological change that is able to replicate empirical regularities related to economic diversification. The model is used to study strategies to foster diversification in poorer countries, which could help to better target action in the implementation of internationally agreed goals related to the economic diversification of these countries.
Keywords: Diversification, Economic Complexity, Structural Transformation, Productive Capacities, Economic Development
JEL Classification: C61, C63, E12, E14, O11, O30, O41
Future Energy Nigeria to unpack new Power Sector Recovery Program in Lagos in November
The rebranded Future Energy Nigeria will return to Lagos in November and will focus on the bold turnaround plan of the Nigerian government, known as the Power Sector Recovery Program, which is earmarked to restore investor confidence in the sector following reported problems in the country’s electricity market. U$D7.6-billion has been earmarked for this recovery process that the government developed in partnership with the World Bank.
"The Nigerian government is serious about restoring investor confidence and providing an enabling environment to grow private investments in the electricity sector," says Claire O’Connell, event director of Future Energy Nigeria. She adds: "there are huge opportunities in the Nigerian electricity supply industry for local and international investors. There are also very advantageous incentives in place for investors such as cost reflective tariffs for electricity, 0% duty on power generation equipment and 20% capital allowance for five years."
Nigeria’s energy sector, quick facts*:
- Current installed generation capacity: 11.1 GW (2016)
- Aimed for installed capacity by 2030: 32 GW
- Investment required to reach this goal: U$D26.99-billion
- Generation mix of 2030 goal includes:
- Gas: 41%
- Solar PV: 16%
- Large hydropower: 15%
- Coal: 10%
- 18%: nuclear, small-medium hydro, biomass, solar thermal and wind.
Transmission & Distribution:
- Current transmission capacity: 6.6 GW
- Aimed for capacity by 2022: 20 GW
- The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) estimates it will need about U$D4.2-5-billion until 2020 to rehabilitate and modernise existing facilities.
- Complete projects are already under construction to expand the network to 10 GW.
*Information source: "Uncovering growth opportunities in a connected world", Strategic Environment Analysis, Country power sector report – Frost & Sullivan, July 2017
According to Future Energy Nigeria’s Claire O’Connell the extensive opportunities in Nigeria for technology and service providers to the industry include:
- Expansion of existing facilities in generation, transmission and distribution
- Manufacturing of wires, cables, transformers and other auxiliary equipment
- Building new integrated power plants (IPPs)
- Expansion of existing transmission lines
- Production and distribution of metering devices
- Provision of operations and maintenance services
Some conference speaker highlights:
- Onyeche Tifashe, CEO, Siemens, Nigeria
- Akinwole Omoboriowo, CEO, Genesis Energy, Nigeria
- Patrick O. Okigbo III, Principal Partner, Nextier, Nigeria
- Sunkanmi Olowo, Head SME Banking, Ecobank, Nigeria
- Bart Nnaji, CEO, Geometric Power, Nigeria
- Joy Ogaji, Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Nigeria
- Joel Abrams, Managing Director, Nigeria Solar Capital Partners, Nigeria
- Olumide Noah Obademi, CEO, Afam Power PLC, Nigeria
- Nicholas Okafor, Partner, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, Nigeria
- Olubunmi Peters, Executive Vice Chairman, North South Power Shiroro, Nigeria
- Segun Adaju, President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, Nigeria
- Engr. Faruk Yabo, Director Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency, FMoPWH
The 14th edition of the event once again enjoys widespread support from the industry with Lucy Electric, a global secondary distribution leader in the electricity sector, returning as platinum sponsor, while Jubaili Bros and Genesis are gold sponsors and Conlog, Landis+Gyr, Hexing and Vodacom are silver sponsors.
New brand – same, innovative event
Future Energy Nigeria (formerly known as the West African Power Industry Convention – WAPIC), with the support of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Distribution Companies and prominent Generation companies, will once again host many of the country’s leading energy decision makers from 7-8 November 2017 at the Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre in Lagos, Nigeria.
The Future Energy Nigeria is recognised as being a distinctive gathering of stakeholders within the power value chain which includes governments, power generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, off takers, developers, Investors, Equipment manufacturers and providers, technology providers, EPCs, legal and consulting firms all with a shared goal of supporting the on-going implementation of finding lasting solutions to Nigeria’s energy challenges. Co-located to the event is the Oil & Gas Council’s Nigeria Assembly.
Future Energy Nigeria dates and location:
Strategic conference: 7-8 November 2017
Venue: Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
Coordinating public and private action for export manufacturing: issues for Rwanda
One of the keys to economic transformation across Africa today is a greater role for employment-intensive, export-oriented manufacturing. After taking due account of differences in contexts and time periods, international experience – especially in Asia but also in Africa-region leaders such as Mauritius – points to employment-intensive manufacturing as a crucial and indispensable step in the transition from poverty to development.
Rwanda is – along with Ethiopia – exceptional in Africa in that it has in place a nation-building project centred on the aim of economic transformation. Features of its political economy also mean Rwanda lends itself easily to comparison with the best-documented experiences in Asia. This paper explores the ways in which international experience of success in manufacturing-based economic transformation can provide valuable insight for Rwanda, in the areas of government coordination, engagement with and representation of the private sector, and the experimental learning process.
Unlocking Investment in West Africa
West Africa’s integration into the world economy is low
The region attracts only 5% of Foreign Direct Investment into Africa
Countries are working to break down barriers to investment
Despite West Africa’s enormous investment potential, its integration into the global economy is low. One sign of this is that the region captures only 5% of Africa’s total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The main hurdles for national, regional, and foreign investors are cross-border constraints. Small businesses and service providers are especially affected.
“In Nigeria, burdensome and non-transparent administrative procedures, land, the clearance of goods and services at ports and airports, and access to finance are some of the obstacles hampering investors,” said Bala Bello, Deputy Director for Policy and Advocacy at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.
With its Improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa Project, the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group is looking at ways of addressing these problems by supporting both regional organizations and individual West African countries. It wants to help them address a range of investment policy issues that constitute barriers to private sector investment across the region.
“This project seeks to take pragmatic steps to facilitate the emergence of a conducive and predictable investment climate in advancement of the ECOWAS Common Investment Market vision," said Kalilou Traore, Commissioner of the Industry Private Sector Directorate at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
At the heart of its work is the establishment of a strong, regional public–private dialogue mechanism. “The participation of the private sector in contributing their opinions and practical experiences is essential,” said Iyalode Alaba Lawson, Vice-President of the Federation of the West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
“Since 1979, the private sector has held observer status at the ECOWAS Heads of State Summit, contributing the view of business to the Trade Liberalisation Scheme,” she said. “Regional-level private sector involvement, from investment policy initiation to formulation through to execution, allows for easier implementation when introduced into the business environment.”
The first forum for this was at an inaugural technical workshop in the Senegalese capital of Dakar in June 2015, and has since been moved up to national level. National reform action plans have been made by six, pilot countries—Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone—for a formal commitment to a regional monitoring scorecard.
Non-pilot countries have been invited as observers to help them prepare for future reform. A regional workshop with national governments and private sector associations deepened their familiarity and understanding of investment policy and promotion. Countries explored how they can promote and retain new and existing investment, and how they can leverage FDI for domestic business environment reforms.
Another avenue for convergence is the launch of the ECOWAS Investment Climate Scorecard. Over 70 public and private sector representatives from 15 member states, as well as representatives from the ECOWAS Commission, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the European Union, and the World Bank Group, have formally endorsed the scorecard as a tool for deepening regional investment integration.
The scorecard is an innovative instrument that enables both the ECOWAS Commission and national policymakers to identify investment barriers and track the progress of national and regional reforms.
A digital dashboard will aggregate its data to facilitate analysis and decision making.
“At the national level, we must make our countries more attractive to investors, each focusing on its own unique potential,” said Zeinabou Keita, Head of the Technical Unit of Business Climate Reform at Mali’s Ministry of Investment Promotion in Private Sector, who added that removing constraints would make individual economies and the region more competitive. “The scorecard is an indispensable tool to help countries refocus efforts on issues that result in too much red tape for investors,” she said.
“West African countries have enormous potential to strengthen competitiveness and increase investment, which can drive growth, reduce poverty, and deliver jobs to the region,” said Eme Essien, International Finance Corporation Country Manager, Nigeria. She said the project was using a unique, hybrid approach to support the ECOWAS Commission to further regional integration by working simultaneously at regional and national levels to identify, address, and monitor the elimination of specific barriers to the expansion of cross-border investment.
The Improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa Project is a four-year initiative that was launched in November 2014. The project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the World Bank Group.
Making governance work for water-energy-food nexus approaches
This Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) working paper explores the effectiveness of governance for the 'water-energy-food nexus'. It looks at approaches that recognise the links between sectors, factor these in during decision-making and promote integrated policy-making.
The paper synthesises findings from CDKN-supported action research in this area, drawing on findings from Indonesia, Kenya and the Amazon Basin. It demonstrates that the effectiveness of horizontal (cross-sectoral) and vertical (between levels of government) coordination – essential for a nexus approach – is determined by institutional relationships, which can be influenced by political economy factors. The capacity of governing organisations to understand nexus links and to collaborate with each other is also found to be critical.
Higher Education Institutions - key drivers of the Sustainable Development Goals
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), a partnership between United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT and UNCTAD, was created in 2012 in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). With commitments from over 300 universities from around the world, HESI accounted for more than one-third of all the voluntary commitments that were launched at Rio+20. Through its strong association with the United Nations, HESI provides higher education institutions with a unique interface between higher education, science, and policy making.
In support of the follow-up and review framework of the 2030 Agenda, UN DESA has collaborated with a flagship initiative supported by HESI – The SULITEST – and has include questions around the SDGs in the Sulitest assessment platform for assessing knowledge of students of Higher Education Institutions around the world. To date, over 60,000 tests have been administered. The results of which can be found in this report 'Mapping Awareness of the Global Goals'.
HESI provides a unique interface for higher education institutions to share their experiences and strategies for advancing the sustainable development agenda.
All higher education institutions may join the network freely. Higher education institutions part of HESI commit to:
1) Teach sustainable development across all disciplines of study,
2) Encourage research and dissemination of sustainable development knowledge,
3) Green campuses and support local sustainability efforts, and
4) Engage and share information with international networks.
Join by clicking “Register initiative” at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnerships/hesi