CSR Report(Corporate Social Resonsibility)

Section1: Introduction to CSR in Africa

The history of development in Africa is as much littered with failure as it is highlighted by successes. For centuries, even millennia, communities have thrived and sustained themselves in relative harmony with the environment. Even, despite industrial exploitation, Africa remains one of the last bastions of biodiversity and possibly the least polluted continent on our planet.

Socio-economic development is the key to sustaining the political gains and benefits of democracy. Business has a critical role to play in facilitating economic transformation within communities. The challenge is to sustain the development of people and communities. Public-private partnerships are essential in achieving this goal.

Social development encompasses a broad range of initiatives that seek to assist very poor, marginalized and vulnerable members of society through interventions at family and community level.

In 1995, after the World Summit for Social Development, The United Nations declared the period between 1996 and 2006 the decade for poverty eradication. A number of high profile initiatives were also launched locally during this period, including the government supported ‘War on Poverty – Better Life for All” campaign in 1997.

Companies are well placed to make a considerable difference to those living in contexts of poverty and exclusion. While a degree of support for purely welfare-orientated approaches will continue to be necessary, companies are potentially strong contributors to sustainable initiatives within the social development landscape, particularly in supporting livelihood strategies for those excluded from the formal economy.

In developing countries, conflict, lack of basic education skills, health threats and unemployment are all challenges that face African countries and the youth in particular. In the next decade, the mounting impacts of climate change can be added to this list. The majority (almost 85%) of the worlds’ youth live in developing countries. This means that most young people are coming of age in societies that lack education and employment opportunities. Many are survivors of conflict and some are perpetrators of conflict.

Against the backdrop of civil wars on the African continent, political instability in the Middle East and the fall-out of the economic boom in South Asia, youth unemployment threatens to keep youth, as a global sector, in a cycle of poverty.

The social and economic development of poor and rural communities is a universal priority. It is a central theme that dominates international trade discussions, drives government priorities and ultimately influences the long term prosperity of a nation.

Poverty, social enlistment and the plight of the poor are firmly on the global agenda.

In the post-war ‘development decades’, a number of landmark multi-lateral conventions, declarations and guidelines aimed at improving social and environmental conditions within the context of economic growth have shaped the international development agenda – and continue to guide development practice around the world.

One initiative that has become prominent on the international agenda arose from the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 in New York, where over 150 heads of state committed to a set of objectives known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The eight goals outline an ambitious agenda to reduce poverty, improve lives and protect environmental resources by the year 2015.

The MDG framework emphasizes the need for co-operative effort between large institutions (such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) and all nations, be they rich or poor.

UN Millennium Development Goals

Drawn from the United Nations Millennium Declaration at the Millennium Summit, the eight Millennium Development Goals articulate the commitment made by world leaders to eradicate poverty in the 21st century.

The MDGs set out broad people-centred objectives to be achieved by 2015. With unprecedented political support, the MDGs provide a framework for co-operative action between developed and developing nations and global institutional partnerships to address the social ills that prevail globally.

The eight goals are:
  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

In conclusion then, in terms of the overview of CSR affecting Africa, we point once again that while business has to keep a philanthropic view of ‘doing good is good business’, there are very definite business and economic requirements in doing so.

The New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), which seeks to address developmental challenges facing Africa as a whole, is viewed as a Marshal plan for the continents monumental ills. It is a strategic framework for Africa’s renewal.

South Africa applied for APRM scrutiny and was subsequently reviewed in conformity with African Union guidelines. Other African countries to embrace the process include Ghana, Burkino Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Mali, Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa.