International law firm Hogan Lovells hosted its seventh annual Africa Forum recently, with Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, First Female President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate, featuring as a keynote speaker to an online audience of business leaders.
Themed “Growth and Sustainability”, this year’s forum assembled panellists to discuss Africa’s business-critical challenges emerging from the global pandemic of COVID-19, as well as the effects of climate change, and the importance of leaders who are championing the continent towards sustainable future growth.
With over 400 online attendees, sessions covered impact financing, risk management, the role of government and public sector in delivering a positive and sustainable narrative for Africa, the continent’s energy landscape, and how to become a trailblazer as an African woman.
Addressing the global pandemic, Her Excellency comments, “The prevailing wisdom in our continent will survive this pandemic but the effects it will leave are enormous. For Africa … mitigating interventions include increasing resources from multilateral lending agencies, direct support to keep households afloat and businesses solvent, and scaling up support to the informal sector, which predominantly employs women.”
“The truth is that unless we address the issues of the pandemic and its presenting challenges … not only are we all ultimately susceptible to poor health but also we risk all other aspects of our collective existence and enduring partnerships.”
On climate change, Her Excellency adds, “It has been said climate change poses a relationship between energy and development. It has redefined the relationships and expectations between business, governments and people. It is a fact that Africa, unlike other regions of the world, has contributed less to the climate crisis we now face. However, such is the interconnectedness of our world that despite this and the fact that many on the continent are without electricity, Africa faces a higher burden than most on changes for the climate. Is Africa ready for sustainable values? Is Africa ready to resume full responsibility for its development? Yes. Africa is ready.”
Head of Hogan Lovells Africa Practice, Andrew Skipper, says, “I was delighted to host our seventh Africa Forum virtually and with such an exceptional array of speakers. We at Hogan Lovells were determined to remain present in Africa despite being in the midst of the global pandemic, and we did so. To say COVID-19 has changed the world is an understatement and featured as a backdrop to our discussions. The immediate and lasting effect of the virus is still reverberating, and while it will undoubtedly have a fundamental impact on the way we do business in Africa, from Africa and across Africa, the positive and robust discussions showed a way forward brimming with hope.”
“Looking back to 2019, the adverse impact of climate change around the world had even the most hardened sceptics paying attention. The continent of Africa is one of the most vulnerable to the forces of climate change, although it contributes the least to global warming. Nevertheless, the forum showed there is much optimism for championing Africa as a leader in sustainable future growth and hope for future generations,” concludes Skipper.