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Africa Leads
Tom Nevin
Published: 02-FEB-07

“Our aim was to find the stories that would inspire the world and place Africa in a new light. That meant stories that would not only prompt the reader to think ‘I never imagined that would happen in Africa’, but also to go on to conclude ‘actually, this is impressive wherever in the world it is happening,” says Mark Drewell, editor of an astonishing new book on African business, Africa Leads.

Launched in late December by the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Unisa Press and the private sector, the book effortlessly recounts case histories of innovation, the fruits of hard work and the rewards of teamwork in vividly illustrated, inspirational stories on business being carried out across Africa.

To develop Africa Leads, more than 1 000 contributions were collected from across the continent including Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Botswana, Guinea, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa and Algeria. These were narrowed down to 87 published stories that tell of inspirational leaders who are putting ethics at the centre of their thoughts and actions, education initiatives that are thriving against all odds, and businesses that are creating economic and societal progress in a globally responsible and sustainable way.

In the book’s foreword, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan declares: “Africa Leads paints a vibrant and hopeful picture of a new Africa. Its stories and insights can provide real inspiration — to those in the international community who seek to advance the cause of Africa, and those in Africa looking for homegrown examples at a time when the continent is steadily growing in self-confidence. Fresh thinking and practical solutions often emerge from places where challenges are the greatest.”

Painstakingly, Annan emphasises that the Millennium Development Goals can only be achieved if business is part of the solution. Through widespread responsible corporate citizenship and public-private partnerships, long-term improvements can be made to the lives of millions of people.

Africa Leads is laden with examples of people and companies making a difference in Africa, including such inspirational tales as:

  • Kenya’s Mobile 4 good initiative which alerts subscribers via SMS about job vacancies that match their criteria
  • How, by using the sun’s rays as an energy source in Ahoto, a dusty village in Jigawa State in northern Nigeria, has changed the lives of many local citizens
  • The Adopt-A-Light campaign in Kenya where companies “own” a street light and use it for their own marketing purposes, 60 former street children are employed and the lights are kept shining along the major highways leading to Nairobi
  • Tsotsi film star Zola Dlamini — who plays Fela in the movie and hosts his own TV show Zola 7 — is fanatical about uplifting

    Africa, especially its youth. He has adopted six children’s homes and orphanages and is an ambassador for the Global Campaign for Education, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations and a member of the international celebrity team who signed their names on Oxfam’s Arms Control Bill. And there are stacks more, each as inspiring as the next.

    Through Africa Leads, the publishers seek to contribute to a more balanced and positive image about Africa, especially among the private sector and investment community around the world. Says Ellen Kallinowsky, Head of the Regional Sub-Saharan Office in support of the Global Compact: “This book tells positive stories about people, organisations and initiatives in Africa. Real stories. Stories that tell of groundbreaking responses to universal challenges. Stories that deserve to be told.”

    The production of the first edition of Africa Leads was sponsored by GTZ (German Technical Cooperation), the Unisa Centre for Corporate Citizenship and Barloworld Limited.

    Africa Leads was launched during the UN Global Compact’s 4th International Learning Forum Summit in Accra. -Business in Africa Magazine

  • Publisher: Unisa Press
  • Title: Africa Leads

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