Experts challenge African leaders on innovation, sustainability
Experts from within and outside the African continent have challenged African leaders to provide a reasonable climate that engenders innovation and promotes sustainability. This clarion call was made at the just concluded 2013 edition of the Africa CEO Roundtable and Conference on Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility (AR-CSR™), which took place in Calabar, the Cross River State capital recently.
At the event organised by Thistle Praxis Consulting for the second year, and hosted by the Cross River State Government through her Investment Promotions Bureau, the experts which include Dr. Aisha Mahmood, Special Adviser on Sustainability Banking, Central Bank of Nigeria; Prof. Su Maddock, Honorary Fellow, Manchester Institute for Innovative Research; Martin Neureiter, Chief Executive Officer, The CSR Company International; Monaem Ben Lellahom, Co-Founder, Sustainable Square; Douglas Kativu, Head of Africa Focal Point, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); Bill Sherman, President, Future 500; Mark Victor, Partner, Deloitte Centre for Corporate Governance, South Africa and Ibrahim Salau, CEO, Environmental Accord Nigeria among others.
The event, whose theme was “Driving Innovation through Transformational Leadership & Sustainability,” began with an exclusive sustainable investment forum hosted by the Executive Governor, CEO round-table sessions, conference, a sustainable solutions showcase, Eco-Tour and gala dinner, among other inspiring and intellectually stimulating activities.
Leading the pack of speakers was Africa’s youngest billionaire, Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder and CEO of Mara Group, who also headlined the event as Keynote Speaker.
According to the Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, “Cross River State continues to drive a vision of being the leading service-driven economy in Nigeria. The state’s comprehensive reform programme for schools has witnessed a substantial improvement in examination performance as compared with other states. Cross River State is on top in the national examination performance and educational reform in Nigeria and has also made great strides in the area of healthcare. To date, Cross River is the only state in the country that has recorded a zero infant and maternal mortality rate in some of our local governments and remains a testament to the investments made in ensuring that primary health institutions, especially in the rural areas, are fit and effective agents for medical intervention. In addition, Project HOPE, which provides free healthcare to pregnant women and children under the age of 5, has been pivotal in achieving this significant milestone,” the governor added.
The governor’s Special Adviser on Investment Promotion, Mr. Gerald Ada, said: “Cross River State is the destination for business as well as tourism. Beyond tourism, Cross River State offers a very friendly business environment, and we are open for business always.” He restated that the focus of the Imoke Administration is not only to promote investments, but also to ensure socially responsible and innovative ones, adding that the state boasts of an irresistible investment climate across the West African sub-region. Cross River State has in the last three years attracted two Fortune 500 companies, General Electric of the America and Wilmar Int’l of Singapore, with a combined investment portfolio in excess of $650 million. Wilmar, in November 2012, inaugurated its $400million 50,000 oil palm plantation and has so far employed 1,500 persons while GE recently launched a $250million manufacturing and assembly plant in Calabar.