Secretary General's End Year Message to BUSINESSafrica- Employers’ Confederation Member
As this year draws to a close, it is an opportune time to reflect on the experiences and lessons learned and consider priorities for the new year. The year 2020 seemed to be a long endurance race that had no finish line, but we are grateful to have survived this far through your support. We appreciate your commitment and support to BUSINESSAfrica and the agenda we have pursued as an organization which has helped us make commendable progress through this difficult year. This progress is a result of the confidence and support you have shown as we work together to strengthen and transform our organisation to play a stronger role in lobbying and advocacy in the continent.
BUSINESSAfrica contributed to the Continent’s Covid-19 response through regional and continental political and economic platforms; including coordination with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), The African Union Commission (AUC), African Union Development Agency and the International Labour Organization (IOE), among other bilateral and multi-lateral agencies and partners. Through these engagements we were able to issue real time advisories to our members on precautionary measures to be adopted at workplaces in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
On policy framework BUSINESSAfrica seeks to influence policy at Continental and International level by enhancing the voice of business in bodies such as the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission (ECOSOC), the ILO Regional Office for Africa, the African Development Bank and other Continental bodies. We have endeavored to build on relationships and networks developed within the United Nations system, the International monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as building partnerships with Business Member Organisations and Employers’ Federations from emerging economies during the year. I am happy to say that despite the hard times we have all faced our organisation managed to take part in high-level events and virtual meetings on a wide range of both policy and managerial issues, helped members in developing Business Continuity Plans and also pushed for more support and capacity building for employers.
We were well represented by the Executive Council led by the BUSINESSAfrica President Ms. Saida Neghza during the year, together with other eminent members of the Executive Council who provide leadership to the organization. As you are aware, the meetings of the 338th, 339th and 340th Sessions of the ILO Governing Body and the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference could not take place as usual due to the pandemic hence urgent decisions had to be made virtually. BUSINESSAfrica was also part of the consortium that participated in the State of Small Businesses in the LDCs: Taking the Pulse of SMEs in the LDC Markets During COVID-19,a survey of over 2,300 SMEs, spanning over 20 sectors, representing all 47 LDCs. This comprehensive survey produced a wealth of data that will provide clear, actionable visibility of SME needs across the LDCs considering the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank the members who responded to the survey.
Additionally, we have accelerated partnerships towards decent jobs and digital skills for youth in Africa through the Boosting Digital Economy program. This programme contributes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the overarching objective of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, the Call for Action adopted by the 2012 International Labour Conference, and the UN Youth Strategy. It is my firm belief that once the employers in Africa are empowered to establish resilient and profitable enterprises in order to create more decent jobs and promote the development of relevant skills in the labour market, we can then tackle the numerous challenges of poverty, disease and illiteracy that are prevalent in Africa.. Our greatest goal is to enhance the growth of indigenous businesses and creation of employment in the Continent.
BUSINESSAfrica participated in a High Level Virtual Political Forum (HLPF 2020) on the theme, “SDG’s decade of Action: A new Social Contract for recovery and Resilience” organized by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). This forum was a good opportunity for BUSINESSAfrica to rally world leaders to push for policies that benefit the continent rather than “a one size fits all” initiatives with the aim of improving the productive capacity of enterprises and safeguarding the welfare of workers.
To crown it all, BUSINESSAfrica and the Federation of Kenya Employers’ (FKE) organized a Virtual Employers' Annual Conference on 18th - 20th November 2020 based on the theme “Building Resilient Enterprises, Creating Wealth and Jobs”. This was the region’s leading Labour Relations conference focusing exclusively on matters affecting employers and the workplace in the wake of Covid -19. It was a follow-up to the two earlier events held by these two organizations: The Employers Summit held in 2016 and the Africa Employers Conference held in 2019.
The Secretariat of BUSINESSAfrica is keen to strengthen its human resource capacity in order to serve you better but this is difficult because most members have not paid their subscriptions. We have therefore relied on volunteer staff over the years as we continue to seek your support and that of our partners towards the recruitment of a fulltime bi- lingual staff to support our work.
We look forward to a new year 2021 during which we aim to enhance our engagement with members, various stakeholders and policymakers to discuss the challenges facing the continent and businesses and the interventions needed to address them.
I wish to thank all members for the continued support especially those who have remained committed in payment of their Annual subscriptions and active in participation in BUSINESSAfrica events. This is your organization, so I urge all members to stay involved and engaged. I also appreciate the partners that continue to support BUSINESSAfrica in these tough times.
Lastly, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year, 2021!! God bless you all.
Jacqueline Mugo, EBS
BUSINESSAfrica - EMPLOYER’S CONFEDERATION.