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PRESS RELEASE AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADERS TO SIGN PLEDGE TO FIGHT POVERTY
Posted Tue, 25 Oct 2005
More than 400 business leaders attending the 2005 Eskom African Business Leaders Forum will be encouraged to sign a pledge to personally and professionally fight poverty on the continent.
Despite the many solutions being offered, poverty in Africa is on the increase, says Everest Ekong, Publisher of Business in Africa magazine and orginiser of the Forum.
The Poverty Pledge says Mr Ekong is one way that the forum will draw attention to the urgent need to win the war against poverty in Africa.
Issues of poverty, governance, entrepreneurship and women in leadership will dominate the forum due to take place in Sandton from November 1, 2005.
Poverty in Africa has been described by UNICEF’s chief, Carol Bellamy, as a “perfect storm of human deprivation, one that brings together climatic disaster, impoverishment, the AIDS pandemic and the long-standing burdens of malaria and other diseases.”
According to recent statistics, Africa has 300 million chronically hungry children, of whom 180 million go to school on an empty stomach. In sub-Saharan Africa, 64% of children under 18 do not have adequate shelter; 53% do not have clean water; 35% have no suitable sanitation; 29% are denied access to education; 24% no access to basic health services; and 18% are undernourished.
Currently, nearly 2 million Africans die each year because they are too poor to stay alive – the poor die in hospital wards that lack drugs, in villages that lack anti-malarial bed nets, in houses that lack safe drinking water. African women and children spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year fetching clean water, time which could have been spent on productive work or attending school. 80% of all sickness in the world can be blamed on unsafe water. The World Health Organisation estimates that 707,000 people, mostly children, died in Africa in 2002 from water-borne disease. But the major cause of death for under-fives is malaria and other preventable diseases – the neglected diseases which afflict Africa.
A five-year review of the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000 will take place this year. Sub-Saharan Africa has already been singled out as the region showing almost no progress. It has been estimated that, at the current rate, primary education for all would not be provided until the year 2130. Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s Finance Minister, commented recently that Africa would miss by more than 100 years a target set for halving poverty by 2015, and the goal for improving child mortality rates would only be reached in 2169! Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 10% of the world’s population, but accounts for two-thirds of those living with HIV. Life expectancy has fallen to below 40 years in nine African countries.
Years ago, in the 1820s, everyone in the World was poor. The industrial revolution led to new riches, but much of the world was left far behind. Africa is the only continent that has become poorer in the past 25 years. By 2000, half the world’s poor live in Africa compared to only 10% in 1970. Africa must also take responsibility for this situation. Political instability contributed to this situation, as well as coups, military rule, civil wars and regional conflicts. Corruption grew (it was estimated in 2002 to cost African nations almost $150 billion a year - ten times their debt servicing).
What are African leaders doing collectively and individually to reverse the devastation that poverty is bringing to millions of people? Where has the battle to fight poverty gone wrong? What must be done immediately and in the long term? Have we lost the war against poverty?
These are just some of the issues that will be addressed by a number of high-profile African leaders at the third annual Eskom African Leaders Business Forum which will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre from 1-2 November 2005.
The highlights of the 2005 Forum, sponsored by Eskom, MTN, the National Ports Authority, Siemens and FirstRand, titled Leadership for Tranformation will include: four plenary sessions on women, poverty, entrepreneurship and governance; 32 high-level keynote speakers; three breakaway sessions on gender issues, entrepreneurship and practical leadership; twenty-four interactive learning sessions; 400 high-profile delegates expected from at least 25 African countries; two days of high-level business networking; and Pan-African media coverage and broadcast of selected sessions.
For further information, or should you wish to register on line, kindly visit the website www.businessinafrica.net or contact:
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