by Oge Okonkwo
The 2014 edition of the African CEO Roundtable of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility ended on a high note on Friday June 20, 2014 in Tinapa Calabar.
The event, the 4th in the series which proceeded under the theme, “The intersection: Financial Inclusion, Economic Sustainability and Social benefit” opened on Thursday June 19 with a welcome address by Ini Onuk, CEO of Thistle Praxis and lead convener of the conference.
In her opening remarks, Ini said “the AR-CSR is not a talk shop” but an annual conference that seeks to provide a meeting ground for much needed conversation between the corporates and the civil society and advocacy groups.
The lead discussant, Brian Kuwik, VP and African Regional Head of Accion presented a paper that showcased his bank’s on-going engagements in the area of financial inclusion with a video testimony of a Nigerian woman who is now running a school with over 400 children and 45 teachers thanks to financial support from Accion.
The Keynote speaker, Dr. Donald Kaberuka could not make it to Calabar but sent a videotaped address in which he said that “it was a pleasure and honour to have been invited to deliver the keynote” while noting that “financial inclusion seeks to bring in those left by the wayside.”
Kaberuka noted that the problems are obvious because “our economies are operating below global indices” and “less than 24% of people in Africa own bank accounts.”
Despite the dismal picture painted, the outgoing President of the African Development Bank (AFDB) however averred that “African countries continue to make good progress.”
Senator Liyel Imoke, Executive Governor of Cross River state and chief host of the event said the theme of the conference was “one that is very close to my heart” in a state where “we are striving hard to foster financial inclusion and empower our citizens.” “Concluding his remarks, Imoke said his administration “remains resolute in its commitment to empower Cross Riverians.”
Other discussants and panelists included Alex Otti, Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Henrietta Onwuegbuzie of the Lagos Business School, Duncan Onyango of Acumen, Sivana Wanjiru of Capita Registrars, Kenya, Prateek Shrivastava of Beyond Branches International, Kalu Ojah of Wits Business School, Leila Ben-Gacem of Blue Fish, Tunis, Hajara Adeola of Lotus Capital, Franklin Ngwu of Glasgow University, Mike Finlay of Risk Business International South Africa, Reana Rossouw of Next Generation Consultants, South Africa, William Derban, Director Fidelity Bank Ghana and Ayo Teriba of Economic Associates amongst others.
Next year’s event will hold June 18 and 19, 2015.