September 9, 2023

“Thank you so much, Ibrahima for such a generous and challenging introduction. I will say first (speaks French). Because we are in Senegal, I am greeting each of you in your own name. I like that greeting because really what it does is to say that I greet each of you as an individual so in your own name, because I know yes, you are part of institutions and yes, you work somewhere. But you come here first as a human being, and you come here as someone who believes in something, so I greet you in your own right first. In the family name, we greet people and for some of you who have been here in Senegal for a while, I am sure you have seen people greet each other and repeat the family name. You know, mine is Toure and the other one is Sall, and I will say Sall, and he says Toure repeatedly.


For me, this is a call. We should look at our portfolios to see where money is going and understand that investing in making sure that children are not only well-fed and have good health but have the capital of love that will allow them to be fully human, is something that I have to name. Again, keeping on my subjectivity, I have to speak about the art. Yes, it might look like something on the side and the margins. It might look like it is not urgent like it is not water. But the truth is that the biggest thirst and the biggest lack that we have today is about humanity in being human. And to me, that is what art cultivates. We need in leadership, government, and at the head of our philanthropies, people who have the sensitivity to hear and see, even when it is not literal, and not said directly.


Secondly, I want to thank my sister, Natalia Kanem. As she spoke, I sat there and I was just like, is there a place where we say, I second this? Is there a place where I can say yes because every single thing she named and spoke about is something that I believe in? I know that although it is uncomfortable for some of us, deep inside, we know that we cannot do things halfway. There is no half-justice, a human being is a human being. Being a feminist is nothing more than just the radical notion of considering that women, poor people, and people with different sexual orientations, deserve just as much as any rich white man living in Europe or America, to have mobility, to move as she wants to have ownership of her body, and to have the opportunity to bring to the world, what we know, what we think, and what we feel.


I do not want to stand between you, and food. I have many things that I would want to advocate for, but I leave you with questions. What will we do now that is different from what we used to do? I would like to give each of you a minute. You do not have to say it in the mic but take the time to write it down. Is there something that you think you might be able to do differently or to push to be done differently in the institution that you come from so that we come together to the type of philanthropy that we have been talking about? We know there are many things and many areas of philanthropy. But what we are talking about is revolutionary and transformative. It turns the world upside down, it speaks truth to power, it supports, even those we do not always see sitting with us.


I have so many stories of invisible philanthropy. We could spend the night here, but I will only share one today. One of the programs that I have been doing for the past 12 years is called ‘Invisible Giants’. The idea behind it is to celebrate women who do things in their communities, even when no one knows them. In the past month, we celebrated four women in the village and can tell you that there is a rampant and invisible philanthropy going on holding our societies that is completely under the radar. CAPSI, I believe we have a study there. I met a woman who sold her house to build an education centre in the Indayan Village, you can come and see it one day. Now when I say she sold her house, you have to go into the house that she lives in right now, to understand the meaning of what it is for this woman to sell her house to build that education centre for the children. I have also met a woman who, if you go to Papua Guinea, you will see a little shack on the side of the road where she sells breakfast, peanuts, and more.


When we did research and asked about the invisible giants in that community, people pointed us to her and told us that because she is at that corner that people use to go to the health centre that is run by the nuns, where most of the people who go there, do not have money and do not go to the hospital because the ticket at the hospital is too expensive. So many people going to that health centre, do not have transport back home or cannot buy their medicine. This is the main foundation that deals with that problem in that area. But you have to see the place from which she is selling things, the amount of money she has, and where she lives, to be able to measure what we receive as information in terms of the philanthropy she does. I think we have a subject.


The Lebou people in the same village tell me that every first Wednesday of the month, all of the people who live off fishing and have individual boats, and family boats, sell their fish and use the money to improve their community. These things are happening. Nobody funds them, no one puts a regulation about who is managing the money and where it is going. Everyone in the village knows exactly when and where the money should be spent. We have worked to unearth the potential of our people in giving, giving with dignity, giving without logo giving without taking pictures, giving without belittling the person we are giving to, giving to the point where when you give you hide because the wall of word for chance, is a practice. You get up and you go to the cemetery early in the morning and whatever you find there is your chance with the people who give. Go at night and put it down so that nobody knows who put it there. Thank you.”


September 9, 2023

Thank you. As you said, I am actually not this year’s African Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement Award receiver. I was the first and after me was Machel, and there will be a third person announced very soon. But I am here to express a few ideas and things I have learned in the last two days here. I use the word learn because I am truly super excited and inspired by a lot of the things I have observed and heard, especially from the younger generation among us here. I am 73 years old, and so I belong to that generation that owes the younger generation, a lot of apologies because we ate the fruits of independence, we ate the roots of independence and basically destroyed a lot after independence. What all of you are doing is truly bringing back the soul, the spirit, that sensibility of African dignity, African independence, and ultimately, what the African philanthropy sector aims to do. In Ghana, we say ‘Cho Boi’ and you respond, ‘Yee’. It Is a call for collaboration, enthusiasm, and for being together. It symbolises in many ways, the Zulu philosophy of Ubuntu – we are together.


African philanthropy, as many of you have pointed out, has been in existence for a long, long time. It is truly embedded in African cultures, African identity, and so on. In Ghanaian slang, we have a way of saying that it has been since time immemorial. I will give you a few landmarks in our lifetime or in my lifetime, that I think we need to keep in mind going forward. In 1958, I was eight years old, I was born in colonial Ghana. France organised a referendum in its colonies in Africa, asking if they wanted complete independence, the total end of colonialism or they wanted to be Federations of the state of France where they would have some degree of independence, but still be governed by France.


All the countries voted yes, except Guinea. What happened next was that Guinea suffered unbelievable destruction. The French took out, the hospitals, the schools, the electricity, the water supply, everything was destroyed, and Guinea was collapsing. When it happened, it was the time before television, though there were radio stations. I was eight years old, and I remember it so well. In my school, school kids, workers, and professional associations started demonstrating on the streets of Ghana in October 1958. We demonstrated for days and days and of course, our President at that time, Kwame Nkrumah, was a pan-Africanist so he took note of it. Guess what happened? Nkrumah drew from the reserves of Ghana, which had been independent for only one year since 1957, 10 million Pounds. Today 10 million pounds equates to 106 million Pounds. Ghana gave Guinea 10 million pounds, and that is how Guinea survived the French destruction. That is one landmark, one sign of cross-Africa, beyond the community level and country level, cross-Africa philanthropic expression. There was a song that was created immediately by E.T. Mensa, I gave it to our colleagues at the back handling the technology. I don’t know if you can play part of it for maybe half a minute. (song play)


You didn’t hear the most interesting lyrics of it. So, what I suggest is for you to Google the Ghana – Guinea-Mali song by E.T. Mensa. This was the first effort by elected people, and leaders in Africa at the national level to bring Africa together. It preceded the whole idea of the Organisation of African Union, which is now AU. Ghana- Guinea-Mali where one country, it was a federation, unfortunately, the CIA and others… Anyway, long story short, that was a landmark, $106 million was given to Somalia, South Sudan, and given to many of these countries that were literally collapsing, you can imagine what would happen. We also know, of course, that official or institutional philanthropy has grown a lot since then in Africa, which has led us to where we are today. Where in this room, I was counting yesterday, we have at least 20 philanthropic institutions or individuals. At the height of the Darfur genocide in 2003, international media did not really cover it much. However, South African philanthropists, ordinary people, I am not talking of high-net-worth individuals, brought together $1 million to help those in Darfur, Sudan. In Zimbabwe during the Matabeleland massacres in the early 80s, and I went there that time. A community foundation for the western region of the country saved over 20,000 lives.


So, there has been a lot of growth and what I will focus on in the next few minutes is the future going forward from here because that is the theme of this conference. I want to use two metaphors, the first metaphor was from my grandmother, who shaped my life in many ways. She was a farmer and a feminist, and she did so much. She once said to me as I was growing up when I was about 10 years old, she said,’ Akwasi remember this, we are like nature. The tree behind the bush that you see is in the forest, and the forest is in the tree. So, make sure that the tree is always in a forest and the forest is in the tree”. I use that metaphor for African philanthropy, and for what I have observed here. We have different individuals, researchers, philanthropy professionals, and so on. Each one is a tree. But there is an ecosystem of a forest, and what I see happening here going forward is you are making a forest out of the trees. This has what I call the Triple P approach which requires a lot of planning, planting, and creating new things and platforms for philanthropy, and a lot of pruning.


In the forest, you have some Ivy League’s and some predators and so on that destroy and humans who destroy the forest. What you are doing here for African philanthropy is to really not just be together, making a forest out of the different trees, but to ensure that the forest, that ecosystem of African philanthropy is healthy and moves forward.


The forest in the tree, the collective in one, the forest in a tree metaphor I am using is what I call the quadruple C, the four C’s. The first is collaboration, which many of you have expressed here. The second is communication, and not have this solely as an episodic event, but communicate with each other across other platforms. Complementarity (Ubuntu), I am because you are, and the reason is. I have gaps that you fail and you have gaps that I fail in. The last C of the quadruple C is a celebration. I will not say another word about that, because you have seen it on display here. The award is a celebration, it is not just to an individual, but to the field as a whole. The second and last major point I will make on the second metaphor I see going forward is that this is going to be a marathon journey for a paradigm shift. We need a paradigm shift, not just a system one. Kuhn, the one who came up with the idea of a paradigm shift, said it is when the old generation dies and the new one takes over. But no, a paradigm shift starts and takes a long time to develop, until it eventually happens.


There are a number of applicable quotations that speak to that. The African American civil rights activist Florence Kennedy who in my view, was as important and influential as Martin Luther King said, ‘Freedom is like taking a bath, you have got to keep taking it every day’. The reasoning is that you cannot say ‘I took a bath this morning and that is it for the rest of my life’. No. The system never gives up, so we have to keep going. As African Americans will say, we have to keep on keeping on.

The second quote from Flo Kennedy was to ‘let us organise and not agonise because so much of what we stand for, can make us cry every day, and maybe not even get out of bed’. I know my time is up, but I am almost done. The third quote is from Martin Luther King, which has to do with paradigm shift. He said, ‘Philanthropy is commendable, but it must never forget the circumstances and systems that make it necessary’. It is like a disease we cannot just treat the symptoms and our dearest sister Natalia, who is a medical doctor by the way, will attest to that. The third or fourth quote is by the Austrian Jewish philosopher a long time ago, Friedrich von Hugo and this is to the grantmakers in the room. He wrote a long 21-page letter to his niece and one of the opening statements was, ‘The golden rule is to help those who love to escape from us’. So those who give money out to those they love or those grantees that they really want to support must ensure that the grantees are not dependent on them, or one grant away from extinction. Lastly, I do not have time, so I will leave it for now, I will just refer you to it. It is a poem about memories, legacies, impact, and having a healthy appetite for creativity. It is a poem by Sam Walter Foss, an American poet in the 18th century called ‘The Calf Path’. What I will do is give it to the organisers, and maybe they can email it to everyone to read because he really does speak of the future you all are going towards. My apologies for taking more time but I am done. Thank you.”



August 4, 2023

Distinguished conveners, distinguished guests, dear young people, dear friends and dear team, it’s teamwork that makes the dream work. Salaam Alaikum, we meet in peace. Peace is the noble purpose of the United Nations, which was forged nearly 80 years ago in response to World War and Peace. This is the dearest wish of women, this world over peace in our homes, peace in our communities, peace in our hearts. And what memorable days we have had here at the fourth annual gathering of the continents’ homegrown philanthropy stakeholders. I want to thank you for inviting me. I love the bravery and the ‘can-do spirit’, and the ‘yes, we can’ determination of your sector. I thank Trust Africa, and the Wits Business School, CAPSI, and everyone for having us here. Ebrima in particular, I would like to thank you for your leadership and for your dedication, it really inspires me. I certainly would like to acknowledge my board chair and mentor Comba Toure who has joined us today. Coumba, thank you so much. Look, for everyone who is here, you as a participant, I have noted that you are leagues ahead when it comes to fashioning effective philanthropy, and it’s been an inspiration.


So, policy today, why is that important? I am here to recount the story of a great battle. As old as Methuselah. It is a battle that is raging right here, right now across this magnificent continent, and all across our world. As usual, the fight is about power. It is about control. It is the age-old question, who is the owner of the body of a woman? Who is in control of the life chances of a 10-year-old girl? In other words, what if every person on the planet, and it is now 8 billion of us? What if every woman and every girl in particular had true control over her body, her life, and her future? We at UNFPA, which is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, believe that with control and bodily autonomy in the hands of a woman or a girl, the possibilities for individual, societal, and advancement in this world become infinite.


Bodily autonomy. That is the foundation for gender equality. That is essential for the prosperous, sustainable future that we all want, and that we all deserve. So, if we believe in human rights, and we want to see that better future, then we are called to step up and defend the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls of everyone. To stand up for the full equality of everyone. I imagine a girl who is standing at a fork in the road, and education is going to make a difference. If she is able to stay in school, she is set on a lifelong path of health and well-being along with her children, and the next generation – all the evidence shows us this. However, as happens all too often, she is forced to drop out of school, married off as a child (which is the euphemism we have for child sexual exploitation and child labor). If she becomes pregnant while still a child, what she will face assuredly is a cascade of catastrophy, challenges over the course of her life, and the next generation, jeopardising her personal health and well-being, but also that of her children, and ultimately, societal prospects for prosperity.


At UNFPA, we know this girl very well. She is right here in fatigue, she is around the corner in Sudan, she is in Guatemala, and she is wondering what is going to happen to me. Someone called Aminata told me the story and it’s just fresh in my mind, in Niger. She said, my dream was to be a nurse and it ended when I was 15 years old, I became pregnant. Having a child at that age was a big mistake. Now, I don’t work, I am a school dropout, my peers are still in school and here I am at home nursing a baby. Such a story as Aminata is telling is, in fact, common. It is the commonness of it that is so tragic. A girl’s life is turned upside down because of ignorance, ignorance about her body, and about her rights. When you flip that script, then that’s the better path from the fork in the road. For vulnerable women and girls in particular, as a health professional, now I am on the education side. Education is that door opener, that is what will make her life better, and different. Better educated women are healthier, marry later, more likely to plan the number and spacing of their children more likely to use prenatal care, vaccinate their children, and seek health services when necessary. Also more likely, with education to participate in the formal labor market, which comes with benefits. Also, education will reduce the likelihood of harmful practices like child marriage, and female genital mutilation in the next generation.


Certainly, an educated woman with her own money is far less at risk from gender-based violence that is far too prevalent, and that is part of that age-old battle. Now, quality education is not just book learning ABC mathematics. It has to include comprehensive sexuality education, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive, but take that girl and boy out of ignorance. The evidence is very clear that when women and adolescent girls have the information, that translates into power. Power to govern their own reproductive rights and choices, and to exercise their agency in other areas, with better opportunities throughout their lives. Societies, then as this magnifies and multiplies, will flourish.


But yes, there is a catch. Right now, sexual and reproductive health and rights, the phraseology of gender equality, sustainable development goal number five, and women’s rights more broadly, are facing relentless growing pushback in practically every single place around the globe. I have to be frank, the opposition to women’s rights is powerful, it is well-organised, and it is well financed. It is active at the national, regional, and global levels. Every time that UNFPA sits in the Commission on Population and Development, as we sit with UN women in the commission that deals with women’s rights, they’re in the front row ready to object to full equality for women and girls. Now, this anti-rights, anti-choice movement has a strategic agenda that was developed in 2017. Part of their strategic plan back then, which now we see being fulfilled, and is well financed – let me underline that again, is to demonise our LGBTQI+ transgender people. It is to erase issues of racial and ethnic majority concerns and I never use the term minority, racial and ethnic, indigenous peoples’ concerns from the multilateral system. It is an agenda that is aimed to systematically roll back rights and this type of anti-human dignity movement demands a response from philanthropy.


Will philanthropy stand up against such a well-organised, well-funded opposition? I repeat, will philanthropy stand up for human rights, because we need a philanthropic effort that is better organised not just as well organised as the opposition that is more adept, that is more combative, more visible, and just as unrelenting. The silent majority should not take for granted that you will win just on the morals of the occasion, and the stakes could not be higher for women and girls in societies. Today, 44%, almost half of women, cannot make their own choices about their reproductive health, about whether or not they can use contraception without the consent of a male, and whether or not to have sex is not under their decision-making power. Our research at UNFPA shows that nearly half of the world’s pregnancies were not intended, and many of these unintended pregnancies, of course, are a happy occasion for the family, but nearly half end in abortion and unsafe abortion, which is a concern for developing countries.

Now, as I look across Africa today, 550 Women are going to die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, every single day. Maternal mortality is a fight that is your fight, and unsafe abortion is part of that hemorrhage that the doctor is going to write on the certificate for fear of policy for fear of the law that keeps women and girls subjected to coerced sexual activity and then blames them for the consequences. This is a wretched situation, and it is one that each and every one of us has to pay attention to. When I think about these deaths, and the tears and the 550 families, for their daughter, for their sister, for their mother, for the other children that she leaves behind. I know that many of these deaths would have been entirely preventable if policy allowed transportation to take that woman from her Island community in the boat to where she could have a safe cesarean section. If policy allowed comprehensive sexuality education so that a girl could say no when the neighbor drops by when there are issues related to sexual and gender-based violence. So, I want to emphasise that when I say 550 women will die today. Many of these are not women, they are girls. They are girls who should never have been pregnant in the first place.


Now it is so troubling. Akwasi mentioned I have served in many countries on the continent. I remember being so startled the first time as a pediatric doctor when you approach a 13–14-year-old who is pregnant and ask what happened. Now I have heard it so much, but I just remember my disorientation and shock when she tells you, I don’t know! Teach a girl to be silent, teach a girl to be acquiescent, and teach her to subject herself to male dominance. She knows nothing about her biology, it is a stomach that is inside, that is it. Then, of course, force her out of school in shame, stigma, and discrimination. The complications that I mentioned of pregnancy and childbirth include fistula and how many of us have seen women stigmatised as they leak urine or feces because of a rupture of their womb, they are too small to carry a pregnancy. Luckily, UNFPA and others are able to help with surgical attention, and this can be very transforming for women and girls who have that condition.


My main point though is that ignorance is not innocence. Often ignorance is deadly and indeed with complications from pregnancy and childbirth being the leading cause of death among African adolescent girls, we all have to sit up and take notice. Until very recently, for example, the world did not even measure pregnancy in girls 14 and under, they were completely invisible. We found out that there are half a million births across the world, to girls who are in the age range 10 to 14. The battle rages on. I believe that the controversy around comprehensive sexuality education is a manufactured controversy because we know that it is protective for girls and boys. In far too many parts of Africa, the opposition is growing because of coordinated, disinformation campaigns that are propagated by those same well-organised well-funded global anti-gender anti-rights, anti-humanity, opposition people that I mentioned. So, my dear friends, sexual and reproductive health and rights are going to be a key variable for prosperity in Africa.


When I look around post-COVID conflict, I just heard from Dr. Naheed Tobia who is from Sudan that with the conflagration that we have in Africa, leading to movements and displacement of people, it is always women and girls who bear the brunt of whatever the disaster is. We have to add climate-related disasters to that list. It is setting back progress, and things are not going well in the neighborhood. Luckily, there are things that we can do to intervene that we should do to intervene, and I believe that as we see the dramatic effects of these trends, including hunger and malnutrition whether it is drought or flood. The newest Russian action to blockade Ukraine’s grain, which is so vital to the African food supply chain. All of this means that we have to work on concert better together.

For us at UNFPA, we have informed ourselves because we are a data shop. We confer with governments in developing countries about the census, for example, and that means constructing the question, it also means modernising the approach to information for prioritising those choices that we talked about yesterday. For us, the three priorities are to make sure that family planning is in the hands of every woman and adolescent girl who requests it, to prevent maternal deaths, and to zero gender-based violence. It is a question of rights and dignity, and harmful practices like child marriage, and certainly female genital mutilation will end in our lifetime. We use quality data to help us reach those who are in greatest need, leaving no one behind.


Speaking to stakeholders in philanthropy, your investments make a difference. They are catalytic, you do have a range of creativity, experimentation, and innovation, and right now, universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is an important investment for everyone throughout their lives. It has been wonderful to see a group of African heads of state, including here in Senegal, who under the leadership of Madame Former President Ellen Johnson, Sirleaf devised men against gender-based violence initiatives. Now, for every dollar that you invest in family planning, you can save a government $3 in the costs for pregnancy-related and newborn care. Over time, the total package that dollar leads to, if part of it is information and services including family planning. According to Guttmacher, and others, the yield is as much as $120 in health and economic benefits by helping girls to stay in school and boosting women’s lifetime earning potential. Today, more than 200 million women and adolescent girls still cannot readily access contraception. This is not just a logistical problem; it is a post-policy issue.


We have seen significant progress in maternal health in recent decades. Uneven, but the march is forward, and also with the lifetime pace of progress regarding the statistics for the continent. However, it is not really a big mystery what makes a difference, it is the policy and willing environment. One objective is to double the number of midwives, for example, because midwives are on the ground in the communities, the medical system has never embraced this. It is time now, to assure ourselves that young people see the excitement of a career as a midwife, or a nurse, as well as innovative low-cost solutions, like the new AI-powered ultrasound device that can be used by a community health worker to identify early warning signs during pregnancy and avoid complications.


Working with academia, UNFPA has estimated that more than 115 billion US dollars are needed over the course of the next 10 years to have a major impact on maternal death in the 120 priority countries, most of whom are right here. When you look at the bottom 10 countries for death during pregnancy and childbirth, except for Afghanistan, it is Africa. When you look at the bottom 20 except for Afghanistan, and Myanmar. This is something that we can join hands and do something about. I would like to say that African philanthropy is an important source of financing. However, you are also an important source of know-how, innovation, and what I would call HOPE.


The examples that were given to us during the course of our meeting are the type of social change that you are espousing is going to accelerate development. More and more foundations align what you are doing with government priorities and with the global sustainable development goals. This has a big influence on what happens in the international sphere. Generosity and informal philanthropy as we have also elucidated during this meeting, continue to play a significant role in African societies as they have for centuries. That spirit of generate of generosity really comes forward during times of crisis, and we saw this with Ebola. We saw it with the HIV pandemic and the role of grandmothers has been highlighted. Now as we see devastating floods and concomitantly devastating droughts, it is again these informal philanthropic efforts that make a difference. I would like to include the diaspora in this type of community because as Africa’s proud and powerful sixth region, we too have to play our role in the development of a continent that was ravaged by lack of bodily autonomy, by the enslavement of so many of our forebears. So, I think it has been important to stimulate that diaspora giving, funding, and time. I think there will be a lot of potential in that kind of dynamic. I have seen that the African Philanthropy Network here estimates the potential giving pool of wealthy individuals at 2.8 billion per year, possibly as high as 7 billion. This is something we can go after because you can imagine how fast and far we could move, especially the gender equality needle if we target those investments appropriately. If we particularly focus on reproductive health and rights and on girls’ education.


I would like to close by highlighting strategic partnerships that we are extremely grateful for. We have worked, for example, with African philanthropy, in the discussions on taxing and the financial flows, that so many of you have put on the map and been very vocal in visibilising. We have worked with foundations such as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Anonymous philanthropy, which provided 50 million US dollars to our UNFPA supplies program just a year ago. This funding is strengthening health systems to reduce the unmet need for family planning in the wake of the funding gap. As a result, the contraceptives provided through the UNFPA supplies partnership have helped to avert over 5 million unintended pregnancies, and 114,000 maternal and child deaths over the course of two years. This also translates to preventing unsafe abortions by more than a million and a half and reaching more than 13 million users with quality modern methods of contraception.


We have done everything possible to work with young people and to have their ideas incorporated into what their vision is for how sexual and reproductive health should be deployed, and working with the maternity foundation to launch a COVID module within their safe delivery app. This helped midwives and other healthcare personnel to protect themselves during COVID, as well as women and newborns from the virus. This is an app that has been downloaded hundreds of 1000s of times and is used in more than 40 countries, many of them here. Foundation Chanel has also been a strategic partner, we have also conceived a power-of-choice initiative with them, that aims to reach women and girls directly on the ground. With Sif, because of their interest in adolescent health, they have recently committed $5 million through a bond programme that is being tested in Kenya, and it looks very promising.


There are a whole host of other very important initiatives, including working with you on advocacy. I think that is how you can really help by continuing to advocate for increased attention to support sexual and reproductive health and rights, and more financial and human resources to strengthen national health systems, and the supply chains. We saw the collapse during COVID. Their critical dimensions beyond the health system as well, though, and I think use your influence and power on employment on the digital technology equation, and economic empowerment opportunities. With Ukraine on the map and so much else, official development assistance is on the decline, and that is affecting our programming. So, I think the ideas that you have had about stimulating domestic resources as a continuing, renewable potential source of funding and financing needs to emphasise maternal health and family planning, and young people’s services going forward. So now is the time when we should stand strong, we should stand shoulder to shoulder basing what we do on human decency and human rights. This applies to everyone whether a woman or a girl with a disability, an ethnic or religious majority-minority, people living in rural areas who are at higher risk, and every woman everywhere. The prevalence of gender-based violence is ubiquitous, and an end to child marriage and female genital mutilation and attention to survivors.


It is time for Mother Africa to claim all of her children, especially her girl children, and stand united in her favor, and stand united against xenophobia, racism, discrimination, and any patriarchal patterns. For us at UNFPA, we will stand with you, and we will stand for rights and choices wherever we may be. We need to stand together for the full dignity of LGBTQ+ people in all their sexual diversity which is their right. Full equality and accessibility for people who live with disabilities, that is their right. Ending FGM now in our lifetime, stopping child marriages now, and sexual exploitation of women and girls now, not 2030 or 50 years from now.


Now, and I think you could examine the medical apartheid as mentioned, that really shocked me during COVID, how we failed as a health system, and how Africa got pushed to the back of the line. The vaccine inequity, that my dear brother Dr. Tedros spoke about at the World Health Organisation is something that needs to be rectified, and you can help to end that now. Certainly, the United Nations will stand ready to partner with you. For us, we are helping to advance the effort of this and combat racism and discrimination. As we stand for the rights of indigenous people, we also provide technical support to the United Nations Permanent Forum on people of African descent, which is a new post-urban process. We are going to continue to push back against the push back, and to keep moving forward, which means hearing your voice among all the voices that speak for the most left-behind populations. None of us accomplishes anything solo.


I served on the Trust Africa board, and it has been my honor, along with our current chair. I learned so much from Madame Aisha, and other giants like Bishop Malusi, and Assefa Bacala. From the reception, when I walked in, to the operations, accounts, and programme people, I stood in awe of that staff willing, imaginative, and capable. I would like to thank all of you, who in whatever part of the world you are working, are promoting that sense of imagination and capacity, especially among your younger staff. I have to say that Turanga was alive and well, the whole time that I have been back in Senegal, and I would like to thank the hotel team and in particular, our wonderful interpreters. Thank you so much for what you have done.


To my own colleagues at the United Nations, my UNFPA colleagues are committed, they always say we are passionate, and that is true. I hope you have had a chance to chat with all of us here who are committed to rights and choices. Our image is of a world that is welcoming a life that is a whole lot better for a 10-year-old girl. Thank you, to my colleagues that every woman and girl owns her body, right? When she can exercise her rights and govern her own body, then that is the Africa we want. That is the future that we build. It is one of the rights and choices and full gender equality. So let us not keep that a secret. Let us move forward to greater peace and prosperity because peace and prosperity are what she wants for herself, for her family, for her community, and for our world. It is a battle, and we are going to win it. Aluta continua, thank you so much.




August 3, 2023

Let me start with this, I was thinking about what to say last night, and I remembered my grandmother who was a formidable storyteller. She could entertain children and adults in the same company by telling the same story but speaking to different levels of the audience at the same time. She had sexual innuendo, she had adventure, everything in the same story. The way she delivered stories made people want to come and spend the night in our house to hear her tell stories. She was an amazing storyteller, and one thing I was thinking about last night was she was very good at doing one thing, she translated the world into two categories, us and them, in all her stories. Funnily enough, the story end of the story had a very ritualised ending. The story was never the same twice, it was different every time. Even the same story was told differently but the ending was ritualised. I don’t want to offend anybody, but the ending was the following, ‘and they lived happily ever after’. We remained with shit in our teeth.


Okay, so just to give you an idea of the subversiveness of this woman’s storytelling, because she gave you a sense of community, but she also gave you a sense of what the opposition was about. She did divide the world into us and them, and of course, all communities do that, we do that all the time. So, as I was thinking yesterday when you gave me the topic of people and power, I immediately thought of us, and them. We do not have the power; they have the power. We are the people; they are not the people. Of course, it is not like that. I am sorry, somebody is speaking to me, I thought it was my grandmother for a minute you know, breaking traditional rules.


Let me start by saying what a great privilege and honor it is to be addressing this group. I had written this speech, but I have dispensed with it partly because of some of the things that happened yesterday, and I will explain, but also because I am really speaking to a group of brothers and sisters. Literally, I am talking to what I consider my peers, not people I can teach, educate, or inspire because many of you are my mentors; Natalia, Akwasi, Bheki, Jacob, Ebrima, etc. These are people who I take advice and get instruction from. I cannot sit here and pretend that I can say something to you that is different, better, or new. More importantly, yesterday I heard a lot of the things that I, in fact, was going to say, so what else is new under the sun? In Amharic we have a saying that translates to – under the sky, there are no new things, so I do not have anything to offer you that is new. However, I do want to say what a privilege and an honor, and that you are obliged to listen to me so, this is the deal.


I have recently come to some kind of what old men like me do, they think, and they remember, thank you, Briggs. They remember, and I have been trying to piece together things that bother me, I am not sure I have the answers, but I am going to suggest some things to you. I would like your feedback, because either I am going crazy, and that is possible. Or, I am beginning to see some things, some patterns that I want to share with you today. This topic of people and power lends itself very much to this. So, with no further ado, with all protocols observed, and all that, let me just make a pact with you. This is not a speech to an audience. I am sorry that I am here, and you are there, us and them. I want us to be part of the discourse, and I want feedback, I want criticism, and I want you to tell me if I have got it wrong. It is perfectly possible that I do not understand anything, and I am just seeing things and patterns where they don’t exist. But let me just throw a couple of things out at you.

I have been in love with the idea of burial associations, and rotating credit associations, all my life. In my fieldwork in anthropology, my initial work on ethnicity was all about looking at what people do to organise for themselves. One particular example in Ethiopia in 1961, a group of people living in an area called Wellamo, realised that if they could build 60 kilometers of asphalt road, they could get produced to market to Addis Ababa, and they could sell it at a better price. These are ordinary peasant farmers, who pooled resources, gathered money, collected money, put together resources, and built in the space of something like nine months, an asphalt road to join the main asphalt road to Addis. They call themselves the Wellamo Road Construction Association, and they brought in a lot of money. Not only did they bring in lots of money, but after they finished building the road, they had more money to do other things, and they began to do them. What do you think happened? The government took notice of them, and they began to get very nervous about ‘people power’. Very quickly, a narrative emerged that these were ethnic secessionists and this that and the other but in fact, this was a group of ordinary people with agency who decided to do something for themselves.


Rotating credit and burial associations are the foundation, I think, of African society across the board from Cape to Cairo, from Dakar to Djibouti, you will find that women mostly are keeping and preserving these incredibly powerful, organisational mechanisms to keep people going. We have reduced them to something that I think is astonishing in the way we describe them, because we call them survivalist activities, or we call them the coping mechanisms of the marginalised. But we have not recognised the power that ordinary people have in pooling resources, and in making things happen. And so, when people talk to me about African philanthropy, I am always translating it to something that already exists.


This brings me to the issue of agency. I have a problem, I’m sorry if I am provoking, but then again, I would like your feedback.I have a problem with the way we use the word agency because we imply in the way we use it that it is something that we can give to somebody. Agency is not conferred. If I can paraphrase Shakespeare, he has a wonderful, feminine hero, who goes to defend Shylock and she says something like, ‘mercy is a quality that is not strained’. Well, actually, agency is a concept, a power, an asset that is not delivered to somebody. It is not given to anybody. Agency exists as part of the fabric of the DNA of people on this continent and on other continents. It is something you have, and it is something you need to be empowered, perhaps is a funny word, because it uses the word power, but you need to be not hindered from using your agency, but your agency is yours, and no one can give it to you, or indeed, really take it away from you. But maybe you think differently, and I would like to hear but I don’t think agency is something that can be conferred.


But power is a very another thing. People do have power, there is people power as I have described. It is no longer fashionable for donors to be able to say, it’s my money, I’m giving it to you, so you do what I tell you to do. But we have a whole world of rules, mechanisms, and agreements we have gotten into this context where we are now negotiating partnerships with beneficiaries and so on. Negotiated partnerships, for me, are problematic because they take away agency, they take away spontaneity.


Recently, I thought we have witnessed during COVID, and possibly in the Ukraine war, two examples where the black swan was not seen, and people were not ready for the unexpected, it happened. The contractual arrangements that agreed that had been agreed, did not allow or did not permit people to react spontaneously to what was happening. I think the philanthropic community if we can use that word, did perform amazing things during this period. It also met the limitations of what it can do under the current schema of contractual relationships and obsession with reporting with TDIs with all the rest of that. There is a real problem, I think, in spontaneity. So, when we say, and this is where I really need your support, we need to create movements that say this. I have seen very successful movements in our industry, on special things. I know people who will not sit on a panel if a woman is not on that panel. I know people who will not take part in something that is not something that they think is ethical. We have managed that in our industry, I think we should also begin to call out, what I call jargon cladding. There is too much jargon cladding in our business, we give something a name and because we use that language, it is as if we have solved the problem, right?


This, I think, is something we really need to do, we need to call each other out when we use language inappropriately. When we use jargon cladding, to pretend we are decolonised, or whatever it is when we are not. I am asking you not to allow ourselves this is our community, not to make the mistake of using jargon to cover up and actually not being able to live up to the promise. I think that is a real risk.


I wanted to talk a little bit about another kind of jargon, which is the jargon of localisation, if I may. I mean, Briggs said it so much better than I could. Localisation has been with us for a long time. When I first worked in this industry, you heard how I got into it accidentally. Everybody understood that having people who spoke the language and lived in the community, were the ones who had the answers. It is not like anybody ever said, no, that is not true. They all agreed. When you show them that people agree, the problem is we do not have the mechanisms to allow people to join genuinely, authentically, and not as tokens, in other words, be able to present a perspective that is their own. I think this is the biggest challenge because it is just simply too easy when you are speaking this kind of sophisticated language that we do, to forget that people have the answers. They may not use the same language, but they do have the answers, they do have the concepts. I find it extremely difficult to accept, and this is a bias, that we are in a new phase where localisation means something new.


When the colonialists colonised this continent if you read Rodney, and how Europe underdeveloped Africa, you will see that colonialism understood localism very well. There is absolutely nothing new about recognising that the people on the ground know better. But we have systematically and continually found ways of obstructing that partly because of language, partly because of sophistication, partly because of jargon. But partly because at the core of our industry we have many people, and again this is a bias, who are not bad or cruel people, who think that they have the answers. They are social engineers; they have the answers. They have the answer in their pocket, they carry it with them. How can you ask that person to listen to somebody who does not use the language that they have, and that is the challenge.


Yesterday, I have to say, I was bowled over by the keynote speaker yesterday, it was very powerful because the language that was being used was the language of capacity building. I had come with my own bias and hostility to the word, capacity building, I cannot stand the word, to be honest. It always puts you in a position where you are assuming you know something, you have a secret, and you have something in which you can help somebody else gain capacity, what an insult. I was coming to the speech with that kind of attitude. I said later to Mamadou that I had an ‘Aha’ moment because he was talking about a very different kind of capacity building. He was talking about capacity building of us, not them. He was talking about the capacity building of the professional, not the unschooled, unwashed. He was talking about the capacity building of us because we need capacity building to be able to interpret what is going on on the ground. That is what I got from yesterday’s keynote speech, and I thought, my gosh, that has helped me. Yes, I believe in education and yes, I believe in knowledge, but that knowledge must be applied in a particular place, it cannot be that you are assuming that you have something to offer somebody else. I will carry that from that keynote speech, and I look forward to reading the written version of it because it was a very important lesson.


Then we had something happen yesterday, that also blew me away and I have to recognise it. Sometimes it is good not to plan too much. Yesterday, we had a very African meeting, we had to wait, and we waited and were patient. We knew there were protocols that needed to be observed. We also needed to occupy our time. What did we have, we had a master rapper with us. Okay. Ali just blew me away, he told us what we had been saying and for a few minutes, talked about our capitals and all the cities. He created an ‘us’ community in the space of about five minutes. So, Ali, thank you very much for what you did yesterday.


I am here representing the Africa Europe Foundation, which is also something that, you know, is new. It is a new foundation that is trying to occupy a very special niche, and it is a very special niche because it is really trying to make sure that the relationships between the European Union, and the African Union, are equitable and real. That is really an important thing because we are going to need policy, and we are going to need governance, and we are going to need serious input from these institutions at some point. The Africa Europe Foundation is doing many different things, it is working on climate change, health, carbon transfer, and African space, which I believe it is working on a whole range of different things. So, if you want to hear more about what it is doing, please talk to me or to Andres, who is in the room representing the Africa Europe Foundation. But I wanted to just say one thing about what it’s doing that I think really matters, and civil society needs to help, therefore I hope you can give us your cards and so on so we can begin to reach out to you. One of the things it is trying to do is to monitor the fulfillment of commitments being made by the EU and the African Union to each other at their summits. This is the way to hold people accountable for promises made on our behalf. So civil society needs to recognise that this space is being occupied, and it needs to help an institution like the Africa Europe Foundation work. Now they have a good pedigree. One of the organisations behind the Africa-Europe Foundation is the foundation you all know very well, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. One of the things that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has done that I have found extraordinary in the last 10 years has been to take the index that they created around governance and make that index something that African intellectuals, African think tanks, African specialists, African scientists are the ones who are adding to the index and adding every year new and better indicators and collecting the data. Frankly, this tool, the African Governance Index, is one of the most powerful tools for holding African governments to account by African citizens, and I think African civil society needs to take that into consideration.


Having said that, I will shut up. Please tell me what I have said is total nonsense or maybe there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. Thank you.


August 2, 2023

Thank you very much Ebrima for the very generous introduction. I wonder if my contribution will be as long as the introduction, just to say how generous it was. Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, distinguished guests. I am very pleased to an honored and humbled to stand here before you with the opportunity to address you and very humbly share some of our reflections on African philanthropy at an inflection point. What the challenges are, in what context, and what can we do to take advantage of this situation?


Audience, I am conflicted right now, I am conflicted between just going ahead and reading a speech that I have prepared, or just going with the flow, and reflecting on many things that we see in this space. I think that I would rather go for the second option. This speech will be made available to you, for you to read.


When we talk about philanthropy at an inflection point, my mind goes to three things. There’s probably more, but I want to think first about the many inflections that we have seen in the global arena over the past couple of years. The first one whose impact continues to have an effect on us in our lives and our economies is COVID-19, one of the deadliest, in terms of effect and showcasing the vulnerability of the world, regardless of whether you are a rich or a poor country, of how, as a global community, when we are not ready, when we are not building resilience, when we do not have strong systems and shared systems, how we are vulnerable, and the impact it has had on lives on economies on vulnerability. The global economy has shrunk, if I remember correctly, globally by 2.2% in GDP, and in Africa I believe, about 1.6%, and we continue to live that.


The second one in the global arena for me that is very important and that we cannot ignore is the war in Europe, and what a wake-up call it has given us as Africans. I think that even more recently, we have seen the withdrawal of Russia from the Grain Agreement. The big concern it has brought to the world but more importantly in Africa. The wake-up call it gave us is also a threat to our own ability to feed ourselves. It has brought or rather reaffirmed a new paradigm. We talk mostly about food security in the world, but this change leads us to speak not just about food security, but about food sovereignty. It makes us reflect as a continent with 30 million square kilometers, and 1.3 or 4 billion people, about how we can depend on the agricultural production of two countries that combined together, may be the size of DRC. So that is a big change that we are seeing. Another thing is the issue of capital, as well as induced by that, and how capital has been mostly channeled toward addressing the impacts of these issues in the countries where most global philanthropic money was coming from and coming into Africa. This raises the importance of us banking on our own cells, even more. I think those are really important points at the global level.


In Africa, we can see the issues around democracy, and we can agree that our continent, for many years, has been on a trajectory of increasing democracy. However, what we are seeing in West Africa, largely due to the economic crisis these days, calls for our attention. I remember in the late 90s when you looked at the map of West Africa, you would see that every head of state was either a military or a former military person who came to power through unconstitutional change. We have seen a lot of change over the past 15-20 years, where, almost every country is led by an elected head of state. However, in the past three years, it looks like we are going backward. What does that mean in terms of democracy, and where do we focus our resources as countries to address the challenges or empower our people to address the challenges they face?


We are also seeing the impact of that shrinking space for civil society, and also a big population growth that is increasing faster than the economic growth and the vulnerability which has put the youth of the most useful continent by 2050, under strain. Only the youth segment between 18 and 24 will double to 400 million and what does that mean? We are seeing many young people dying in the Mediterranean and Atlantic these days, losing faith in the ability of our continent to secure a future for them, and ready to perish at sea. What does that mean, and what does it mean for African philanthropy? If I think that philanthropy is the grease, that oils, the wheel of progress in society, then I think that it is important for us to also look at, what are the inflection points that we see in philanthropy, and particularly in African philanthropy, and which ones we need to address or take advantage of for philanthropy to hold holds the promise to support, transformation of society. I will list some of them, not comprehensively but some I think are important.


This is a constantly changing landscape. We are seeing many family foundations joining the movement. We also see many high-net-worth individuals coming in and instituting Foundations, and there is a lot of hype by the way. We also see a growing number of what I could call ‘’, corporate foundations coming. Today, we are seeing a very interesting change in the space, what used to be called RC, is being re-packaged as corporate foundations in that way, not necessarily focusing on inclusive economies, but using philanthropy to get a license to operate is also an important change that we need to see.


If we think again about the hypothesis, philanthropy has power. Unlike governments, its decisions do not depend on the potential outcome of the next election, and unlike corporates, its decisions and investments are not based on the potential quarterly or half-yearly earnings, and how those support that. We have a unique power and opportunity to have the freedom to do what actually matters. However, it is important to understand that regardless of the resources available to us as philanthropic groups, what we have is never enough. It is just a drop in the ocean of needs. Therefore, the idea of leverage becomes even more important in the midst of all those changes that I have talked about. 


You have given us four themes to concentrate on and reflect on as a group, which are people, power, practice, and policy, to have the impact that we foresee. Let me share my thoughts about each of them. When I think about people in this context, and in our community, I really think about skills and knowledge that foster innovation, and innovation that is not just disruptive change but one that provides proven solutions that are fruitful, applying them to new problems, new places, and new contexts. To do that, we need knowledge and skills, we need a knowledge society. This means that we need to increase investment in people and when I say people, it is not people out there. It is first and foremost, people within the philanthropic sector.


I always say that to have a good plant you need two things. You need a very good seed, and you need fertile soil. Think about the good seed as the competent, knowledgeable, and skillful people coming with all the other soft skills such as leadership, accountability, and readiness to serve. I think that this is something that is extremely important that we today as a community, think about. How we invest in ourselves to really up the game and bring the kind of knowledge and skills in emerging sectors that we do not have in the community. I think it is extremely important, perhaps, for some of these organisations here to undertake an inquiry or study to look at the challenges and upcoming challenges we face today in the rapidly digitising world. Do we as a philanthropic community have within our organisations, all the skills that we need to be able to face those challenges? Obviously, it is not there.


I cannot talk about people without talking about institutions because I talked about two things; good seed and fertile soil. Fertile soil for me is institutions. We should ask ourselves today, if we look back to say, do we have today, the right institutions, those institutions that are ready and able to tackle the challenges of today, and the challenges of tomorrow? I think that many of us will be tempted to say, no, then what does that mean? What should those institutions look like? What are the transformations, and the ways of working, this speaks to the problem of practice, that needs to take place to be able to have those two conditions. I always say those two conditions are not enough if we are not as a philanthropic community, not looking at that mindset change in terms of our role, and responsibility. We know there are challenges around financing and other things. But our ingenuity, change of perspective, and mindset are going to make that difference.


It is very interesting and many of you would be surprised if I said that crops do not need rain. But it is true. Crops do not need rain, they need water. It is all about perspective. We often see in Africa farmers sitting next to a water stream and complaining that it has not rained yet – think about that in our own context. That is the kind of change of perspective and change of mindset that I am talking about.


The second point is about power. In my perspective, I think that when we talk about power, it is really about the balance of giving and the recipients. How do we change the narrative that we are helping and supporting people transform their lives without making them too dependent? What does that mean, for our upward and our downward accountability towards them, not just us thinking about what is nice, what are the good solutions to them, but how to genuinely make them and bring them in as part of the solution? To me, it is about power. To me, the power also speaks to the private sector. I said earlier that because the imperatives of the next quarterly earnings limit the ability of the private sector to invest in untested solutions, we have seen it and seen it again. But here is an important role that philanthropy can play because we can fail, we can learn, and we can invest in those new untested ideas, and not do it just because it is cool. We believe that because when it works, and there is a proven business case, there is someone who is a market for it, and there is someone who will be willing to invest in that solution and take it to scale. That is also about the power of philanthropy. Again, this can only be done if we adopt that change of mindset that I have been talking about.


I want to talk briefly about practice. It feels to me, and I think that CAPSI and perhaps many other organisations like it can also do some inquiry about that. Yes, it is a growing community of philanthropy in Africa, we have many platforms, and some of them are here. However, I believe that more evidence needs to be brought to the fore. I think that we are together, without truly always being together in addressing the key challenges that we face; mutualising our efforts, knowledge, influence, and resources to tackle big problems. This will require many of us to move away or put less attention on the issue of putting cool stories on our websites, but really look into how we can build a common narrative as a community and showcase how we can address and tackle problems.

I will give you an example of what I have been an actor in. A few years back, probably seven years ago, I was heading the Rockefeller Foundation, and investing significantly in agriculture. I realised that many of our colleagues were funding the same actors for the same goals, but we were measuring outcomes differently. Our work was not coordinated. At the end of the day, the African organisations we were funding and supporting, were busy satisfying our individual organisational desiderata than actually focusing on the real problem of transforming African agriculture. This is often the case in this space.


What we then did was to call a few of them to sit down and evaluate this issue and see how we could better coordinate our work. We brought in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ourselves as the Rockefeller Foundation, and USAID, and we sat down to discuss how our objectives compare, and we realised that we were pursuing the same type of outcomes. Then we agreed to have a common results measurement framework and to put our resources together and empower one organisation (Agra), that has very solid goals in many countries and with big numbers to reach – that is what we did.


For five years, the Gates Foundation put in $200 million, we put in $50 million, USAID put in $90 million, and that started the program. We were coordinating and having only one meeting with all the stakeholders through Agra. That way there was less pressure and more resources for Agri to actually focus on the development outcomes. Along the line, many others joined. GiZ joined with €30 million, UK joined with another £50 million, etc. This gave probably the biggest philanthropic budget for agricultural transformation to a single program, over $700 million just for five years. I think that is possible. We need to come together to mutualise our resources for big problems. We all do great work, here and there transforming the lives of one, two, or three people in small communities. But the issue of scale of impact is a big problem, and it cannot be resolved, if we do not come together on joint programs, joint goals, and joint ways of measuring our impact. Also, it tells the story of not one institution but tells the story of a group of institutions making change, which to me is about what we can look at in practice.


The other thing is about being ruthless in measuring and showcasing our impact. Today, we must admit, the policy or regulatory space is still not as incentivising on our continent, although there are differences from country to country, it is still not very favorable to the strengthening of philanthropy. Sometimes we even see the contrary. I will come back to this with a story that I think my brother Akwasi here will remember. A few years back, I think in 2010 or 2009 here in Senegal, the government decided to revoke the registration of all international development organisations, and everyone had to go back and register individually. We are seeing many similar things happening in different places. I remember we brought everyone together and met at our Oxfam offices after receiving individual letters to discuss the issue and see how we could co-strategise to address it. I remember there was somebody who suggested in the meeting that we make this issue public to garner the support of our beneficiaries. And I remember I and I think this was brother Akwasi in this wisdom, who said, ‘Do we have evidence that if we put this in the public, we will be supported by the public? What do we think about how the public sees us beyond just the beneficiaries of our work in remote rural villages? How are we seen in town, are we seen as the big guys in four-by-four cars, flying from place to place, etc.? Would it be more positive support or negative support to us?’


I am telling this story because it speaks to the issue of our accountability to everyone. Because of the nature of how we are funded as philanthropic organisations, we do not feel the pressure to account for what we do, especially to the broad public. I think that occurrence or issue showed that more than ever before, the importance of not just accounting to the people who fund you, or the people that you work with directly, but also the importance of your accountability worldwide to society more globally. This is something that is extremely important that we need to look at and consider in our practice.


The last point I will talk about, because I am conscious of time, is the issue of policy which is extremely important. Policy and regulation, I want to add regulation because I believe that the first step in policy implementation is regulation. We think that we have an important role to play also in this space because policy is best done when it is evidence-based. Evidence comes from two places, perhaps at least, but probably many more. One is research. How are we as a community supporting the generation of knowledge through society working with academics and with think tanks? Today, we at ACBF support the Africa Think Tank network, a network of 60 think tanks. But the biggest challenge these think tanks face is their funding and sustainability. What role can we play to support them in conducting the research and generating the knowledge, evidence, and insights that private sector actors and policymakers need to devise conducive policies? I think this is very important, and to make it demand-driven, as well, and I think we have a very important role that we can play with them.


The second area for me is that evidence comes from practice within our work. The programmes we develop, implement, and evaluate go beyond just evaluating whether we have done it or not, but look deeply in terms of outcomes and impact, to measure how it is changing the lives of people. What are the lessons that we are learning from that and how do we disseminate those lessons and put them in the hands of those who make policy? I think there is an extremely important role that philanthropy can play in that.


But it is also the issue of data. Last year, in partnership with and the Mac J. Govern Foundation, we released the report on ‘data talent in the social sector’. What we realised is that there is a huge shortage of data scientists, and data miners in the social sector. When we say social sector, we mean the government, philanthropic organisations, and civil society organisations. This suggests that probably most development programmes that are being developed are not based on real and strong evidence. Because not only do we not have the data, but we also do not have the capacity to mine it and make it provide that evidence. Therefore, it is extremely important for us, and this links to my first point about people, to figure out how we can invest in building that capability in increasing the data talent for our sector. That way, investment decisions are not based on our goodwill, or what we see as cool and nice, but on the right evidence, and data to guide decision-making.


I cannot finish without delving into a little bit about the African Capacity Building Foundation and the role we can play in this. ACBF was created 32 years ago in 1991, in the midst of structural adjustments in Africa. At the time, there were 12 states that received massive funding from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, UNDP, and others to support this structural adjustment programmes. But things were not moving. Countries were having challenges using the resources, the burn rate was very low, and at the end of programmes, a significant amount of those resources were being returned. Thus, it was in that context, that ACBF was created, understanding that it is not just about an issue of money, but it is also an issue of capacity, capacity to plan and execute. Over time, ACBF has trained over 50,000 civil servants, and many of them today hold high offices in their government, ministers, governors of central banks, and many more. It has also supported policy, and evidence-based policymaking through the creation of several think tanks, many of which are known today here, I think that our friends from Kenya would be familiar with KIPPRA. There are quite a number of them today, though with uneven influence, because it again depends on the appetite of policymakers for evidence and knowledge.


We continue to focus on our new strategy for 2023-2027, to implement the same mission and mandate that was created 32 years ago and continue to build human capital through skills, and also build institutions. This me brings back to my earlier statement; these tools are intimately linked. So, we provide skills through the ACBF Academy, that is launching two big schools that are extremely important to address the issues of shortages. The first one is the African School of Taxation and Public Administration, to address the issue, and build the capacity for increased resource mobilisation on the continent, while also improving public finance management, not through technical skills, but through soft skills, such as transformative leadership, accountability, inclusivity, purpose driven budgeting PFM.


By the way, in this space, civil society is far more advanced than our public, because civil servants are not wired that way to be open and accountable to citizens. This is why we are not focusing on technical skills, but more on soft skills. The second school that we are launching at the beginning of 2024 is the African School of Regulation. As I said earlier, regulation is the first step in policy implementation, and we drastically lack regulatory capacity on our continent. What we do on the continent in terms of regulation is more compliance with others’ regulations, but not our own. There are many sectors that are not regulated at all, and it is important to change that.


It is also through the institutional accelerator. An institutional accelerator is a tool that allows you to look at any organisation and conduct an assessment of 10 big parameters ranging from governance, talent, processes, systems, fundraising, results measurement, etc. to identify strong points and weaknesses of that organisation and coming up with a capacity development plan – high touch, medium touch or low touch, to end this cognisance that if you build the skills but do not have the right conducive institutions, then the impact can be jeopardised. This is what ACBF offers as part of this community, and we are already doing it for several foundations. Unfortunately, mostly funded by foreign foundations but I pledge this to this community, we will see how we can work together to really strengthen our organisations to improve and increase the ability to make an impact.


This has been long, but I hope that some of those points were thought-provoking. Nothing new, but just putting the finger on issues that I think that if left unaddressed, our impact will continue to be limited. Thank you for your attention.


November 15, 2022

Habari, Dumelang, Salibonani. I wish I was there in person and feel the energy in that space as old friends get together over the next couple of days. As Maurice said, the pandemic is still with us. I am a recent victim of COVID-19, and it has really messed with my head. I am going to spare us a bit in the sense that in my conversations with you today, I will have to rely very heavily on my notes, so I do not forget anything that is important.


As Ebrima has already painted the picture for us, every day, climate emergencies are present somewhere for someone wherever they are in the world. Extreme weather events famine, sea level rise, forced migration, and poverty mean that for many hundreds and millions of people, climate change is a reality. Recently, the International Panel on Climate Change, together with the intergovernmental platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services released the first joint report that explains the interconnectedness between biodiversity loss and the climate change we are facing at the moment. It shows that environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change are both driven by human economic activities, and they both reinforce each other. Not only that but there is also a direct impact on human wellbeing. For us in the African continent, this is a reality that we are very familiar with.


As we have seen with the COVID pandemic, the structural driver of the pandemics that we see all over the world has to do with a total collapse of our ecological systems that are driven by unsustainable economic models. As such, the problems of the multiple crises that we are going through at the moment, call upon us to shift away from siloed responses. It is for this reason that I am really encouraged to see that at the center of the dialogues over the next couple of days, you are looking at systems change, and what it means in terms of the responses from the philanthropy community.


From a climate perspective, what are we dealing with? Many have said that we are facing a decisive decade for us to take transformative action. The reason is that global emissions need to be halved, relative to where we were in 2019, and we also need to half our global emissions by 2030 so that we can reach net zero by mid-century. We must limit temperature rise to less than two degrees and make an effort to make sure that we stay below 1.5 degrees. This has been the challenge for the last two decades. Despite over 30 years of efforts, we have failed to address the problem.


Now, what do we do to attend and respond to the challenges that are facing? We must stop runaway climate change and build resilience into our life-giving systems so that we can adapt and mitigate the impacts. Across the African continent, the dual and multi-intersectional challenges that we face intersect. We therefore need to define a clear pathway to prosperous development that is rooted in equity and justice.


A few points are fundamental and worth mentioning. The two previous speakers have made reference to poverty, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and the reality that those who are most hit by climate change are those who are least responsible. We see this through record-breaking droughts that we are experiencing in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, as well as increasing deadly tropical cyclones that we are seeing in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and many other places around us.


Historically, Africa is not a major greenhouse gas emitter at a global level, we have produced only 2% cumulative global emissions. However, our total emissions are estimated to double by 2050. This is not a scenario that we can afford. We have reached planetary boundaries; every part of the planetary earth is hurting, and that hurt is in turn hurting human wellbeing. There is also nuance in the sense that while we talk about Africa cumulatively contributing very little to greenhouse gas emissions, some countries within our continent are part of the global major emitters of greenhouse gases; Nigeria and South Africa being amongst them. Let me just pick up here and say that the fact that we contribute the least to climate change and that we are the most vulnerable as a continent. It is not a new conversation, but it has been a point of dialogue for the past 20 years. In fact, an argument that is as old as the Paris Declaration itself even predates it. That cannot be the beginning and the end of our story. It is not the beginning and the end of the African story. What ought to be part of our story is what action looks like, and what we envision the solutions to look like from an African perspective.


When I say this, it is not to absolve the Western world and the developed countries that have amongst their wealth and development on the backdrop of colonial extractive systems that have fueled the climate crisis that we face at the moment. It is one that calls upon and calls on the recognition of differentiated responsibilities, while at the same time the solidarity to act as a collective in addressing one of the biggest global challenges that we face. So far, philanthropy funding at a global level has largely focused on bringing down emissions. By so doing, focusing solely on the mitigation agenda, we have overlooked the need to address the immediate vulnerability that communities on the frontlines deal with on a daily basis.


Climate Finance in its current structure does not take into account historical redress. There is a fundamental step in systems change and funding for us to build resilience that we need to look into. Africa has repeatedly stated the need to raise 100 billion US dollars on an annual basis. Initially, the target was by 2020, to meet the adaptation challenge. However, we have failed to meet this target, and the target has been pushed back by another five years. Recently, Climate Works released a report in 2020 that noted that out of 1.1 billion that foundations have given to climate mitigation, only 40 million has gone to Africa compared to 150 million that has gone to Europe, and 360 million that has gone to the US. Africa gets only 4% of climate mitigation funding. There might be a solid rationale behind this, considering the mitigation burden that is required in Western geographies and other parts of the world. But the skew in resources is unjust, and when we consider the infrastructure gap between climate, carbon emissions, and vulnerability that I spoke about earlier, this is where the heart of injustice sits. Africa has been left behind. Despite the talk about our need to leapfrog toward a low-carbon development path.


I would like to attend to what is happening in the energy sector and Maurice spoke so passionately about his love for all things energy. The continent’s geographic diversity holds an immense potential for solar, and wind power, and ithin its diverse natural resource base, minerals needed to fuel and support the clean energy transition and technologies that are required for the future. There is an increase in demand for cobalt, copper nickel, lithium, and rare minerals that is skyrocketing. The result is a dash for African resources from China, Europe from the US from all over the world. The question is, will the continent benefit from a future low-carbon development path and the energy transition, as well as the dependence on these natural resources to fuel this future?


There is an unrecognised and untapped potential in terms of how we position ourselves in the efforts to identify strategic solutions. When we look at the funding that is available for energy transition, Africa attracts only 2% of the investments worldwide. We need up to about 375 billion in investments by 2030 for us to tap into Africa’s renewable energy potential by 2030. It far exceeds what we have already put on the table to fund the adaptation agenda. At the moment, China is the largest financier for renewable energy in Africa and holds a 51 market share percent of investments in renewable energy with the EU following closely. That said, we have to pay attention to the structure of funding that is coming through the EU. The bulk of the funding that comes out of the EU comes in the form of loans and it is creating or adding to an already existing debt burden that is strangling the African continent and hindering our growth. So growing debt, in the context of climate finance, is an issue that we need to be paying attention to as philanthropy and as the networks and infrastructures that support philanthropy are field.


We are, however, noting some positive shifts. Here, African philanthropy must position itself to help the continent take advantage of near-term opportunities as well as future plans. Last month, Climate Works recently shared introductory Africa country profiles for climate philanthropy, focusing on six of our major economies in the continent, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. From this series, they identified an overview for funders to develop engagement strategies with these countries in consultation with African-led, African-grown, and African-focused organisations and their local partners. I think that the groups that ought to be leading the charge in terms of defining the priorities for investment and providing seed funding ought to be coming from African philanthropy so that we can take control of the future of our continent.


A number of other initiatives exist. The African Adaptation Initiative has put together a set of proposals that are drawing on nationally determined commitments in preparation for COP27. We as the Oak Foundation are working with other foundations to map the fields in the continent to understand African philanthropy organisations that are funding climate, African re-granting entities that are supporting climate change work, NGOs, and social movements, that are focusing on the actions that are required, including some that may not be working on climate change, but have potential to build cross-sectoral and integrated responses to this fields. We would really welcome your partnerships, as we look to understand the field and how we may be best placed to support. The philanthropy responses ought to go beyond providing funding, we have to understand what where this funding might go and what it might focus on.


At the risk of losing time, I just want to go through a few of the opportunities, in the near term, as well as long-term opportunities that I see emerging. We need to have an understanding of tracking the funding flows that are coming to the continent and the sectors that are funded, including understanding where the funding gaps lie. We need to find a way in which we can support regional climate funds that are emerging in the continent. I am glad to see in the programme that you have the African Climate Foundation speaking in the next session. We have to look at greening financial systems in the continent, and making sure that justice is centered in the design of climate finance, as well as in providing institutional support to the robust network of organisations that exist in the continent and are doing important work, tapping into economic justice movements that Ebrima spoke about earlier, as well as philanthropy playing a progressive role to meet people where they are at.


To do this, we might want to understand how various organisations operate and what issues they are organising around. There is no better place to understand sites of struggle and justice concerns than to look at what social movements across the continent are working on. Some of the movements that have been leading the charge for many years include movements that work in the areas of food sovereignty and land rights because agriculture being one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions is going to be yet another frontier of climate action, also recognising that agriculture as a sector in our continent is very vulnerable to climate change. We have a suite of organisations that have been doing work for decades that require support; the Rural Women’s Assembly, the African Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, climate youth movements, and various climate justice movements that we ought to be looking at how to support – the right energy partnership is spearheaded by indigenous peoples across our continent. But these movements are largely invisible, underfunded, and hardly attract stable funding in the long term.


The other area that requires attention is one around knowledge and shaping narratives. In a recent report that was done by Carbon Briefs released last year, they picked up a report from the Routers, where they came up with a list of what they call the 1000 Routers Hotlist of Influential Climate Scientists. Only five came from the African continent, and the list of African authors was dominated by South Africa. Overall, African authors only make up 1% of authorship for a continent that represents 17% of the world’s population. I, for one, know that we do not have a shortage of research capacities and thought leadership in the continent to drive the narrative and discourse on climate change.


I have worked with several organisations, and perhaps what we need is to rescue them from the stranglehold of the UN agencies. We have organisations such as the Climate Research for Development that was developed in 2013, and the African Academy for Science which is a research network and platform that brings together more than 40 different African institutions, and individual researchers. These are all networks of researchers all over the continent who are doing important work and require funding to be able to do this work. I am going to quote what the continent had to say about that scenario, “if we do not find African thought leadership in this work, we are in a situation where in deciding how the world responds to climate crisis, policymakers and philanthropy rely on research that is generated by white men based in the Global North”. I talk about people based on the Global South because I think that that is where the framing ought to be coming from if we are to be looking, looking forward. We have to look at investing in knowledge generation and supporting networks in the global south to do this important work.


Last is the area of looking at how we support narrative change and strategic communication, and how we support dialogue that is driven by our people. I spoke about the wealth that the continent has, and how this wealth is likely to fuel energy transition going into the future. We cannot do that if we are not shaping the discourse on what this looks like. Let us rally behind some of our very powerful organisations that are doing important work, such as Power Shift Africa, that are shaping the narrative on what we do with the resources and how we might want to take this wealth in this world forward.


In conclusion, Chair, I would like to wrap up by saying that a lasting solution to the climate crisis is more than a technical and managerial response. We need to think about climate responses as part of human rights approaches to address social inequality and agency. At the heart of this, justice and equity are not nice to have, they are essential. It is not soft work; it is the work of the day. Where we are going is as important as how we get there, and the time for African philanthropy to step up is now. Thank you.




November 13, 2022

Thank you so much for that warm introduction. I am excited to be here this afternoon. Good afternoon to everybody present here. One of the things I do is team-building sessions for companies. So, let us see if we can do a little exercise before we dive into our presentation. Turn to your neighbour and stop scaring your neighbour, so turn to your neighbour and smile, is your neighbour looking less scary now? That is what it is supposed to be. Thank you so much for the elaborate introduction. Again, I will highlight that I am excited to be here with you. I have been listening to the different conversations from morning up to now, and I should mention that there is a lot of inspiration around here. A lot of great work is happening, and I truly believe that if we are going to invest in what we are sharing together here, the narrative of Africa is going to change.


I must highlight that we are the solutions we are waiting for. Right in this room is an amalgam of different solutions to different problems. I should probably begin with a little story by one Ghanaian scholar named Dr. Samuel Pipim who is an engineer and theologian who wrote a story about what he calls monkey solutions. He says one day, monkeys were up in a tree, and they were facing the coast. Suddenly, they see fish jumping in and out of the water, and the monkeys seated on the tree, realise that there is a disaster happening in the water. Then they said, “Look, the fish are drowning, we must go and rescue the fish, and the monkeys jumped into the water and started picking the fish out of the water, taking them to the shore. After that, they climbed back into the tree, gave each other a monkey high five, and said Job well done, we have rescued the fish. By the time they wake up, they are going to thank us. Unfortunately, the fish never woke up, because the monkeys introduced a monkey solution to a fish problem.


This sometimes, unfortunately, becomes a challenge when we want to solve challenges. Copy, cut, and paste kinds of solutions, which are not adapted to the environment to the things that are obtained have a way of turning into becoming monkey solutions. So right from the start, I would challenge you that we are meeting here, I presume for us to be able to not just copy and paste solutions from anywhere but to brainstorm and come up with home-tailored solutions to the problems that we are facing. I would like to read a quote by Oliver Tambo, you have Oliver Tambo airport around here, he says the children of any nation are its future. A country, a movement, or a person that does not value its youth, and children does not deserve its future. When you do not value your youth, you do not deserve your future because youth are the future. The harvest of any farmer sits in its nursery, and it is the intent, concentration, and investment that you make in your nursery, that will determine your harvest.


This is why Africa must begin to pay particular attention to the youths because without investing much in the youths without paying attention to the youth, mentorship, and grooming, the future of Africa is doomed. It reminds me of a poem that was written by a youth activist in the name of Useni Eugene Perkins that I will read this afternoon, but I am going to rephrase it. The poem is ‘Hey Black Child’, but I will say, ‘Hey, African Youth’:
Do you know who you are, who you really are?
Do you know you can be what you want to be If you try to be what you can be?
Hey black child, do you know where you are going, where are you really going?
Do you know you can learn what you want to learn If you try to learn what you can learn?
Hey, African child do you know you are strong, I mean really strong?
Do you know you can do what you want to do if you try to do what you can do?
Hey African child, be what you can be, learn what you must learn, do what you can do and tomorrow, your nation will be what you want it to be!


This is what we must communicate with our youth, to begin to own the solutions that are being provided to their problems. I am happy that it is beginning to happen across the continent. As many speakers before me have highlighted, we should probably move away from a mentality where we expect solutions to be given to us. When I sit in a room such as this one, and I hear the suggestions that are being given, that gives me hope to know that much will be done in the near future, or probably even in the present, to change a lot of issues that are facing, especially our youths.


Statistics clearly indicate that we have a lot of youth. Between 10 and 12 million youths enter the workforce each year, here in Africa, but only 3.1 million jobs are created. What that tells us is that we are sitting on a timebomb, and if we do not address issues of employment, one of these days, that bomb will surely detonate. We are told that the vast majority, that is 90% of the youth in Africa, leave the education system and transition into the world without ever making it into universities. Of the 9% that enter University, only 6% graduate. That equally sounds like statistics that are announcing doom, and these are some of the things that we must change. You would, however, know that Africa has more than 400 million young people aged between 15 to 35. That is a huge population, and you know that our median age as Africans is around 20, which is something special because it tells you that the future globally will be around Africa.


If you look at the demographics in terms of population distribution, you are going to realise that for us, as in Africa, it is a pyramid. You have more young people and fewer elderly people. If you look at Europe, you are going to realise that it is an inverted pyramid with very few young people and many more elderly people. But the question to all of us here, our leaders across Africa, all the different organisations that support whatever is happening is, are we awake to this realisation? if we are not, then we are caught in danger because this population of young people, which is calculated to double by the year 2050, will look for solutions, and therefore we must begin to think of what to do. Policies are there that promote work that can be done for young people; community engagement, you name it, there is a lot that has been put on paper. You would know that in the African Union, we have the African Youth Charter, and we have the Youth Decade Plan of Action, which speaks to education, employment, entrepreneurship, governance, peace, security, and health. We also have The Malabo Decision on Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development. All these are things targeting Agenda 2063 to see how Africa can begin to empower its youth. So, the policies are there but then we might be on the end side of implementation or creating spaces for ourselves within the policy framework. The question is, are we doing that as we should?


What then is youth participation and why should youths participate? Some scholars say youth participation is a process of involving young people in institutions and decisions that affect their lives. That means young people must be involved, both at an institutional level and at any point where there is decision-making. Now why is this important? I must mention that there is another phenomenon called adult care. Now, adult caring is where the adults think they know it all. Therefore, they think they know what the young people need. Therefore, they plan for the young people without involving them. Now, it is true that there is a lot of wisdom in grey hair, and from the African context, we highly respect our elders because we see them as oases of wisdom. However, we must realise that moving forward will require collaboration between the elderly and the young. The wisdom of the elderly, and the energy, passion, and risk-taking behaviour of the youths. It is this collaboration and not antagonism that will move Africa forward. So, it is very important that we do not move on the side of adult caring, but truly engage young people in what they must do.


We should not look at young people as troubled and trebled. Oftentimes, when we look at youth, we say they are troubled by many things such as unemployment, drug abuse, and whatever else. So, we say they are the causes of trouble. We should see young people as assets. Those of you who love to read history would know that any revolution that has been on Earth was driven by the youth. Whether you talk of the Industrial Revolution or any other revolution that you can read about, youths were at the centre of it.


There are challenges that young people are facing currently, which make it hard for them to participate in anything, including philanthropy. Some of these challenges include, at the top, negative mindsets. Now, this negative mindset begins with the youth themselves, because they do not see themselves as a group that can effect change. Oftentimes, it is conditioning, there is a way that our society treats young people to the level that most of them lose faith in themselves and in what they can do. We must attend to that. Lack of support and mentorship are another thing. Sometimes when young people have ideas, they are not so sure of themselves and may need support, mentorship, and encouragement that what they are doing is the right thing. I want to believe that depending on what age you are, you have passed through that edge of uncertainty, where you doubt whether the career you have chosen is the right one, whether the person you want to marry is the right one, or whether it is the right time to have children. It is a stage of life. But within that same age bracket where you are still so uncertain about your decisions, which is usually a youth stage, it is when your potential is at its greatest. Whether it is physiological makeup, your brain, and mental power are at their best. Talk of physical strength, you are at your best, and yet, you are at your worst in terms of self-awareness. That is where collaboration now should come between the old and the young so that these young people can be guided.


Another challenge we may need to address as adults is when adults believe they are better and loathe the youths. We also need to address the lack of resources. This is where young people might see they might have dreams, visions, and plans of what they want to do, but may not have the resources to implement. There are many models across the world where you see young people doing different things that are changing their communities, including in the space of philanthropy. One scholar by the name of Richard writes and indicates that young people will often go through the following stages before they can become capable leaders to effect change in society. The first thing is they need to become aware, then gain experience, receive encouragement, and then they will grow confident. They will then develop practical skills, and finally, emerge as leaders.


Now, if this is true, it means there are certain interventions we can begin to make to help our youths. How can they become aware? It means we need to run awareness programmes. This is very critical. How can they gain experience? Oftentimes when young people apply to institutions, even when they want to volunteer, they will be told they need to have certain years of experience. A guy coming out of high school is told that he needs five years of experience, that is paradoxical. How do you have five years of experience in work if you are just coming out of high school? So, we need to create spaces where young people can volunteer. I am hoping that from the institutions you are coming from, you all have spaces through which young people can volunteer that will give them experience. They need to receive encouragement and how will this be possible? It is only possible if we are going to develop mentorship programmes.


As DNK, we have a number of mentorship programmes and one was highlighted here; the National Education Expo which is the culmination of youth that we have been mentoring. Throughout the year, we run programs to mentor young people in entrepreneurship, leadership, community engagement, and many other things. It is important that we begin to develop mentorship programmes.


If we want young people to be involved in philanthropy, then as institutions that are involved in the same, we must have mentorship programmes. Otherwise, when this generation is gone, we do not have hope for the next. So that is quite critical. Then for them to grow their confidence, they must be allowed space to try and fail. You know, there is a quote that says try and fail but do not fail to try. So let us allow young people to try and fail. Moreover, learning is in failing, we learn a lot more from failing than from success. Then for them to develop practical skills, we need to allow them to come up with youth-led initiatives and give them the space to do so. That is going to help our youths. But these youths also need to be educated. This is because there is a close tie between development and education, and if Africa is going to change its narrative, we need to pay attention to education. You would know that education does a number of things, it is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge and fostering skills and character building. That is what education does. It is important we know so because in 1961, we know that there was a convention, UNESCO came to an agreement that looking at education, we must grasp the concept that education is an investment in productivity. Education provision should be planned continuously in relation to manpower needs are all times.


Those of you who have done Development Studies would know that there are four main theories. We have the Classical Cyclic Theory, which was propagated mainly by the Greeks and the Romans, who believed that when you talk about development, what happens is that you know, things come, and things go nations come nations go – making development a cycle. Then you have the Augustine Christian theory that looks at doomsday and says, all development is going to end in some Doom one of these days. I want to concentrate on the last one, as I am winding up and it looks at what is called the Linear theory. It focuses on the fact that development is progressing, and things continue to improve. It is in this theory that around the 1950s, two economists analysed what is called the Gross National Product (GNP) of the US. As they tried to analyse the factors that were determining the GNP, they could not adequately account for the end of it. They realised they were failing to account for the residue of the GNP because it was directly related to the fact that there had been changes in the education system of the US, which increased their GNP.


There is a direct tie between development to education. Nations that educate their people see development. If Africa is going to develop, we must invest in the education of our young people. Currently, they are being challenged by a number of things. Access to education is a challenge in some of our countries, while some are improving in that. We also have another challenge, which is the challenge of quality access is one thing, quality is another, what is the quality of the education you are accessing? In some of the parts of Africa, not all, we have our young people still learning under trees. In some parts of Africa, we have young people walking over 10 kilometers every day in the morning and back, and these are little boys and girls, just to access education. These inequalities will not put us in the front seat. We must therefore choose to invest in the education of young people and in our teachers. Talking about our teachers, we must begin to see continuous professional development programmes. Right now, it is considered that once you graduate as a teacher, once a teacher always a teacher, no. The educated of today are the illiterate of tomorrow if they stop reading. We must understand that life is dynamic. What that means is that the challenges of tomorrow will not be solved with the solutions of today. I have observed when you are in the medical sector where I come from, you cannot renew your license without demonstrating that you actually went through continuous professional development every year. This is because we are now training young people who are facing a digital revolution. If these are going to be taught by teachers who graduated 30 years ago and have not improved their skills to be able to teach these young people skills that are relevant to this time, we will graduate young people who cannot solve today’s challenges.


I am hoping that from this group we will begin to see some of you getting into the spaces of supporting education across Africa through the programmes that we run, curriculum reviews, and updating the curriculums. There is a skills mismatch between what young people are learning and what the industry needs in excess of 10 years. That tells you that the majority of what our people are learning is somehow outdated. I am hoping that not only are we going to engage young people we can continue to promote philanthropy to support these young people. Thank you so much, it has been a pleasure.

October 9, 2022

Briggs Bomba

We are going to transition and move to an Ignite Talk that is going to be delivered by a dear comrade, Halima Mahomed. Halima is currently serving as a senior fellow on African philanthropy at Trust Africa and is a key part of the philanthropy ecosystem or infrastructure. There is a language that she always deploys in her work relating to philanthropy having a mission towards a more just society. Let us give her a big hand as she comes on stage. We have told Halima that she has 5-10 minutes uninterrupted to pose some of the difficult questions we should be pondering on in the philanthropy sector.


Halima Mohamed

Thank you, Briggs, and good afternoon, everyone. I want to thank Masego this morning for raising the COVID-19 fog. I have my notes so bear with me if I read because it is a real thing. But I also want to thank Masego and Ruth for really foregrounding the idea of whose narrative matters and whose knowledge matters, I think those are the most important conversations we need to be having in the sector.


The theme of the conference is ‘Systems Change and the New Normal’ and I have been asked to talk about the role of philanthropy in relation to this. But first, we must ask which system? Philanthropy in Africa is multifaceted, and we need to be mindful of using philanthropy as shorthand for institutionalised philanthropy. The latter is but one small part of a much larger giving sphere that is dominated by everyday giving, which is rarely professionalised or legally formalised, but really is embedded in everyday life. Actually, I do not want to change that system. I think by trying to professionalise it, we risk destroying it. However, we do need to better understand it, and recognise the multiple roles it plays in advancing social change, and then how we connect to those roles.


But looking at the institutional philanthropy space, which is where most of us come from, the last few years have seen significant critiques and much talk about how the sector is changing. But is it? I think the answer is a complex one, and I’ll try to talk about a few types of changes I am seeing in the system, and what a re-centred lens needs to look like. So we have all heard much about the loosening of restrictions during the onset of COVID, easier qualification criteria, applications, and important reporting requirements, a loosening of grant conditions and terms, additional flexibility and funds, and more operational general support. Some of these changes where crisis responses were enforced only for that moment, while others have become a new normal.


All of these changes are important and useful, make no mistake. Civil society has been demanding these and many others for a long time, and rightly so. But do these changes address the heart of the agenda-setting critiques that have been leveled at the system? Or are they tweaks, important tweaks that tweaks, nonetheless? Tweaks to practice that leave the fundamental fault lines in our system untouched. Why so because these tweaks are after the fact. After we have decided what narrative of change is needed in society and after we’ve developed theories of change and how that will be achieved. It’s after the strategy development process we take internally, and after our own formulations of what constitutes impact. It’s after the decisions on what kind of civic spaces are the bearers of the change, and deserving of, or professionalised enough to obtain support. So, these tweaks are after the biggest decisions have already been made. While this is still the dominating mode of institutionalised philanthropic practice, it is by no means clear-cut.


Many philanthropic institutions work on some form of hierarchy, and who influences the decisions at different levels of that hierarchy varies depending on many different factors, size levels of authority, geography, colonial worldviews, type of philanthropy, nature of external input, founder, board orientations, the list could go on. Some institutions are extremely top-down – founder money translates into founder board decision-making, sometimes overtly others indirectly. Then some institutions have brought in expertise from the civic space into programming roles and this plays some significant influence on the strategies and theories of change and push barriers and who is brought into the funding room.


I have many dearly loved colleagues who are working to shift these institutions but with much resistance. Some institutions have created advisory boards, consultative committees, and other participatory practices to help inform how they understand issues. All of these are progressive changes and absolutely necessary ones. But they still happen within a system that remains unchanged and unchanged in how it sees its role. A system that too often still mediates to different degrees, the voices of those bringing in perspectives from the ground. Then we have seen fundamental transformations of philanthropic institutions that are drastically changing how the system works, which at their core reflect what it means to be in solidarity with those who love justice. We see this in some feminist funds, some community philanthropies, we see it in some movement funds, some activist-led participatory funds, and some new configurations of solidarity funding. The lesson here is that it can be done, and it is being done. But in the larger scheme of things, these groundbreaking institutions are still few and far between and we need to do much more to learn from them, understand how they work, and understand the ideological and values basis upon which their work is positioned. Make no mistake, true transformation demands an ideological change, not just a practice-based one. Although we do not ideologically reposition whose agency is central to informing our work, our positionality, our provision, and our power, can despite many good intentions, do too much harm, even while we are trying to do good.


Power has become one of the most talked about topics in philanthropy as it should be. But I want to put forward that philanthropic power is not the start of the conversation, philanthropic positionality is. How we use our power is directly linked to how we position our work role in advancing this work of a just society. So, we must ask, what does it look like to position ourselves not above, but in solidarity work, so that our role is to center the agency of those living injustice as the core of the work?


What is agency as a lens demand? It means that constituency-led agendas must dominate our understanding of the issues. It demands that we fundamentally reconfigure our role in ways that decentre our institutions, our impact, and our legacies. It demands that we are no longer inviting others to sit at our table or even setting up new tables in the same house but enabling space for entirely new structures to shape the narratives and agendas for a just society, even if those structures exclude us. Does that make us redundant? Maybe, and maybe not. It is not really about funding and getting out of the way, but funding and figuring out how we still continue to support and position our power in ways that are in solidarity. It demands that our philanthropy is inherently political, that we use our power to build collective organising power, and that requires us to move beyond the professionalised civic space as the core of the work. It requires that we question how our bias to professionalisation crowds out the many civic spaces that are doing transformative things on the ground.


The ways in which the politics of exclusion in philanthropy inhibit agency is something we must contend with. It demands a commitment to a long-term change agenda that does not end when the grant or project ends, or when we change our programme areas, as philanthropy is very likely to do so every few years. It demands a reflection on impact that is much more nuanced and dynamic, which is informed by constituency views of what is valued as impact and how that is assessed. It demands that we let go of the siloed programming and look at resourcing social change in ways that recognises how multiple systems of oppression link to build on and compound each other, how multiple identities and characteristics can simultaneously elevate privilege and reinforce injustice, and how gains and progress on one issue can foreground gains and progress on another or foreground limitations on those. Then we need to foreground the lived experience of people in this decision-making.


These are by no means easy shifts to make. But for systemic change to happen out there, it must first happen here. Our philanthropic system is inherently inequitable, but how we choose to position our privilege need not be so, thank you for listening.


October 9, 2022

Mosun Layode

Good morning, Ndidi, it is an honour to have you on day two of the 3rd African Philanthropy Conference. As you know, today we are focusing on technology and systems in philanthropic practices, and we could not be having this conversation with a more qualified person. Welcome.  

Just to go straight to the point, technology has significantly changed the way the world works and has radically transformed the philanthropic sector in the last decade. You have been a leader in the development and philanthropic space for over two decades, what are some of the changes you have seen that have enhanced the practice of philanthropy, especially regarding the democratisation of philanthropy?


Ndidi Nwuneli

Delighted to be here, and congratulations to you and the entire team on the successful conference.

Well, I think technology has been such a great tool and an addition to that philanthropic landscape from three lenses. Number one, it has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of engagement with grantees, beneficiaries, and partners. With technological tools, you do not have to have physical meetings anymore as we know, you can engage virtually through all sorts of tools, but you can also ensure communication, data gathering, and M&E in ways that you could never have imagined. It has allowed us to engage with beneficiaries, partners, and core funders in amazing ways. It has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of engagement.


I want to zero in on this, historically, we would depend on good stories, a few good stories from the fields to show we are making an impact. Today we have baselines, midlines, and end-lines, and we have rigorous data technology that allows us to review large amounts of big data, look at trends, and look at control groups, to understand whether we are making a difference in the medium, short, or long term. It also allows us to understand what the unintended consequences of our philanthropic work are, especially when we engage control groups.

We are seeing this in Nigeria through a project with the Gates Foundation where we are engaging with nomadic communities in the dairy sector and are using technology to measure the impact of our interventions. The donor can see this data in real-time sitting in Seattle, while we are in Lagos, Abuja, or any of the states in Nigeria that have this data. All our extension workers have cell phones, and they can collect this data in real time. So, it allows you to really, truly understand the impact of your interventions.


The third I would say is that it allows for learning knowledge management, and knowledge sharing. Historically, our sector has been very bad at knowledge management, learning, unlearning, understanding failures, and documenting all of It. Technology allows us to document in ways that we never imagined. It allows for knowledge sharing, the understanding of what has worked, and what hasn’t, but also sharing that globally. Knowledge management is passed down between your staff within the philanthropic community, stakeholders, and all sorts of intermediaries. For me, technology has been an extremely useful tool that has galvanized that sector to change the way that we work, allowed us to build bridges with each other, and allowed us to also improve on our impact measure our impact, and where we need to change, pivot.


Mosun Layode

Thanks a lot, Ndidi, I think that is a great way to start this conversation. You have already started touching on the aspects of the next question, and that is really around the key role that philanthropy can play in building a robust civil society in Africa. This cannot possibly happen without technology adoption. So, what can philanthropists and foundations do to ensure a progressive sector that leverages trends and disrupts existing norms that basically stifle growth in this sector?


Ndidi Nwuneli

I think philanthropists, especially African philanthropists, are catalysts. They can take risks, they have patient capital, they understand the landscape, and they can bring in unusual suspects. This is the time to leverage technology to go beyond the normal way we have engaged in to find new partners in the field and strengthen their capacity. I would like to suggest that we do this through three tiers. Number one is really looking to find those unusual actors who are already problem solvers in our communities and making a bet on them.

That is why I am so excited about the technology tool that APF has created the start point, which allows you to find those actors at the rural level, and urban level, working in areas such as democracy and human rights versus nutrition, and agriculture, you know, all sorts of issues, finding those ones who are already starting, making a difference and taking a bet on them. Using technology to take a bet on them.

Now, when we find them, the second step is that we have to invest in building their capacity. There is no civil society organisation, or nonprofit organisation that is ready-made. We have talked about technology, they need to adapt technology, leverage innovation, and also think out of the box. They need the right philanthropic partners who are willing to take that risk to work alongside them as they build. I think philanthropists have to change the mindset that, if you are looking for ready-made phenomenal, award-winning grantees who are ready to scale, you are coming to this with the wrong lens. Come to it as a partner who says, I am going to hold your hand, and together we are going to learn and grow. I trust you because you work at the grassroots, I trust you because you are efficient because you deliver impact, and I am going to work with you to scale. That commitment and capacity support to putting in place the systems, structures, and investing in these civil society organisations is critical.

The third piece is really working with philanthropic partners to tell stories, positive stories about critical change. Many times, philanthropists like to tell stories, and they like to celebrate the impact. However, how do you work alongside your grantee and civil society partner to ensure that they are telling the stories, leveraging technology and innovation, showing the data, and they are changing mindsets? Because guess what, if we can have these success stories amplified on the global stage, it changes the way people view Africans. Africans solving their own problems, homegrown solutions, delivering impact at scale in an efficient and effective way with measurable outcomes and data to back it up. That would be a win, and I think it is time for us to look at the full spectrum of interventions, and the role of catalytic financing as partnerships, as investors, and as storytellers. If I can add one more, we need philanthropists who are willing to partner with civil society organisations to shape policy and ensure that we have ecosystem changes. These success stories can be amplified to shape policy, where government officials see it as a win and adopt these interventions at scale to amplify the impact across sectors. We need this urgently in all our countries. I am excited to see what the philanthropists listening in can do by changing their mindsets and working in partnership with local organisations.


Mosun Layode

Perfect Ndidi. I love the last point that you just shared about philanthropy partnering with civil society to shape policy and it leads me to what I am about to discuss next. It is really around the concept of systems change. We know that when we talk about systems change, we are looking at how we can solve problems in a holistic manner. We have to look at the entire value chain when we are solving problems. It is not one person, one foundation and one philanthropist alone, one nonprofit alone cannot solve problems. The concept of systems change is gaining traction in the philanthropic community. There is increasing recognition of the need, you know, for us to apply systems thinking to solving problems on the African continent. More importantly, we are having this long overdue conversation, which I know you are passionate about, and it is around the decolonisation of philanthropy. So how will all these parts work together to radically shift thinking and the practices that would channel the path to the future of philanthropy in Africa?


Ndidi Nwuneli

Well, as you know, I am very, very passionate about systems change. But I am also very passionate about philanthropists, pooling their resources, and knowledge together to affect change. I can assure you that we are starting to see that in our landscape, and I will just give an example because I think examples are very powerful ways to show systems change. As you know, I am the founder of LEAP Africa, which is 20 this year. LEAP stands for Leadership Effectiveness, Accountability, and Professionalism. What we have seen is unusual funders coming together to support LEAP’s work and scale it in the education and social innovation landscape. I will use a classic example of a local philanthropist, the Sahara Foundation that basically said, we see the work you have been doing, and we want to scale it up to the countries where we work beyond Nigeria. We want to ensure that we support social innovators by giving them the skills, the tools, and the support to scale their work, but also shape policy. Now, Sahara Foundation came in after they had seen funders like Ford Foundation, Mastercard Foundation, and international funders support us over the years. But now a local philanthropist came in and said, we are now going to help you scale this social innovation work across other African countries.


When you see philanthropists working together, leaving their egos and logos behind and saying, how can we amplify work? But also, how can we ensure that we invest in social change agents in countries that are shaping policy that are doing the real hard, difficult work, and addressing wicked problems? That just gladdens my heart because it changes the way we have been talking about our homegrown solutions. It says, yes, maybe international philanthropists sowed the seeds, but now it is local philanthropists who are amplifying the work and extending the impact, and that is important.


Beyond that, where we do invest in social innovators, then how do we pull our resources and our strengths together to say let us give them the skills and tools to shape policy? In LEAP’s case, we are trying to shape policy in the area of education, we are trying to shape it in terms of youth development, and we are trying to shape policy in the area of social innovation and scaling and addressing many of the unemployment challenges, but also teacher education at federal, state and local levels, and then spreading this curriculum. We now have the curriculum in Amharic, in Swahili, and we are converting it to French so that we can trust the Francophone countries. So, when you see fundraising, I see good work. I am going to amplify, shape policy, and work with entrepreneurs and social innovators on the ground who are already doing this. It just gives me so much joy and it is happening not fast enough.


We need to push a lot more on this and get philanthropists to work together in a more cohesive manner, and not be afraid of getting out there to shape policy. Many philanthropists say, ‘I do not want to rattle feathers, I want governments to like me’. I say, you do not have to be at the forefront of its work through social change agents, let them be at the forefront. You do not have to get into the murky waters with the government, you know. Many philanthropists say I do not do advocacy or politicking. No, but we need an enabling environment for education and healthcare, and if we do not have it, we cannot affect the lasting change we want. So please work through the local social change agents who are ready to take on the difficult and wicked problems, empower them, support them, and work alongside other philanthropists, and we will have so much more to celebrate as a sector over time.


Mosun Layode

Awesome that you started talking about LEAP Africa, and congratulations on the 20th anniversary. You wear so many hats. You are a social entrepreneur, launched so many initiatives, is the Executive Chair of Sahale Consulting, the co-founder of ACE foods, on the board of the Rockefeller Foundation, and proudly on the board of the African Philanthropy Forum you know, and you have your own family foundation Munna, which you just shared with us about a short while ago. What key points would you leave with the different groups in the audience? I think you have spoken a lot to the philanthropist, and possibly the foundation CEOs as well. But if there is more to add, I would appreciate that. But beyond that group, what would you say to the nonprofit leaders that are here? What would you say to the academics, and you know, other stakeholders in this philanthropic community that are joining us for this conference?


Ndidi Nwuneli

Well, I have a few key messages for different audiences, and I will start with academia. I think academia has such an important role to play not only in strengthening the sector for philanthropists and civil society organisations but also in ensuring knowledge management data, the case studies are well written, and the research is done that is homegrown. We need more homegrown research for our sector, and you have an important gap to fill in this landscape. We need to see those case studies that we can use, not only to inspire ourselves, but we can also use to change mindsets globally. So, academia, your work is cut out for you.


Now for the civil society organisations. I think this is the time for Africans to take their rightful place in the development landscape. At the African Philanthropy Forum, we say, Africans for Africa, but it is not enough to say that we have to act, which means we have to reclaim our place in shaping the agenda for our continent. We are facing another crisis now, the food crisis. We often see international organisations crowding us out, and I get so frustrated, and I am sure you do too in your sector when you go to conferences and convenings, and you see people who are not from your network, speaking on your behalf and shaping policy for you. Enough is enough, we have to reclaim those spaces, no one is going to hand you the space, you have to take it. That means you have to write, you have to write op-eds, you have to get out there and demonstrate that you are delivering impact. That means you have to deliver with excellence, your team members have to have integrity and excellence at their work, and you have to amplify your stories by telling your stories on local and global platforms, using hard data to prove the impact you are having. When failures come, own up and use them as a learning example for others in the sector. You also need to work with each other. The time is now for us to work as a collective to drive social change.


Now for the philanthropists and the foundations in the room, you have to work with us and give us the benefit of the doubt to ensure that with your catalytic funding, we can take risks and we can deliver impact. That means you have to change the way you have worked in the past with African philanthropists. You have to engage with us as partners and mentor us as we work alongside you. But also, be prepared to learn from us. We have a lot to teach you and be open to learning, shaping the way you work and changing. Dialogue is key, humility is even more important, but collaboration is the key. I love to quote an African proverb that says If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go with others, and I have tweaked it a little to say we must go fast and far together. There is no time to just go fast, we need to go fast and far. If we are going to go fast and far, we need to lead with integrity and humility, leaving our egos and logos at the door and working with excellence and integrity to deliver impact. I look forward to celebrating with many more of you as we embrace technology and envisage the social change we can deliver together as we put local organisations at the forefront. Thank you so much.


Mosun Layode

Thank you, Ndidi, this is a great start to Day two. I am so excited, and I actually like that quote as well. ‘Fast and far together’. Thank you for making the time to kick-start day two and for all the work you do in the development space. Have a wonderful day.


Ndidi Nwuneli

Thank you so much Mosun and congratulations to you all.

October 9, 2022

Thank you very much, Bheki. I just want to show my sign of respect as you are all very important people, so I will take my hat off. It is such a pleasure to be here, and I feel very honored and humbled by the work you are doing here, particularly because in my youth, I also was in the nonprofit sector. For three years, I worked for an organisation called World Vision and did a lot of community development work, traveled to other countries, and to most parts of South Africa, going to the poorest of the poor and to rural areas. So, I am going to give you a round of applause because I really admire what you are doing.


I would also like to acknowledge Mama Graca Machel, who I understand, is going to receive the Lifetime Achievement African Philanthropy award 2022, for the wonderful work that she is doing. You know, she is a mother of two nations, Mozambique and South Africa, and so she truly deserves this kind of award and love. Let us give her a round of applause. She will be receiving it in the evening during the dinner, so please, make sure you come for that dinner. They will give you more details about how that is going to work later.


So let me start. Habari, Sanibonani, Molweni, Good morning, Goeie More, can I go on? Le kae, Abusheni, Thobela. I am just showing you how many African languages I can speak. I’m getting there. Let me just say, thank you, Professor Moyo, it is a privilege working with you. I will speak a little bit like an elderly person, it is a privilege to have worked with a young person who is full of energy and passion and is committed to this continent. I have a right to say that because I have seen him in action, and his passion is so contagious. That is why I am here and spend an inordinate amount of time supporting this.


My name is Maurice Radebe, and I am the Head of the Wits Business School. It is absolutely an honor and a privilege to be here and to welcome you to this exciting conference. This is not the first time I have been to this conference, and I have seen some familiar faces of our partners. I was part of this even during COVID-19 times when we were all online. I have always been part of this conference because it is a highlight in the calendar or for the business school.


COVID came and by the way, the virus is still around, let us not forget about that. There has never been a pandemic that ever left this world. The virus does not leave, we just need to learn how to manage it. You can talk about HIV, which is also still around. The virus is still around, we need to manage it. So, we cannot talk about post-COVID either. We are talking about a new normal. I think this conference captures it in its theme of ‘systems change in philanthropic practice’. It really shows us that systems change, the reason why we currently have a hybrid conference, and let me welcome all the online delegates that I hear, it is a systemic change that has happened in the world. In South Africa, it was March 2020 when we were locked down and the whole systemic change happened. We worked from home, we worked from anywhere. Therefore, it is always important that even in this philanthropic agenda that we do things in a systemic way, or we will not be able to defeat poverty, unemployment, inequality, ignorance, diseases, and wars in our continent.


One of the leading people was passionate about eradicating poverty, and I use this expression that I like, and I believe that it is possible. He said, ‘One day, maybe in our lifetime, maybe not in our lifetime, but one day, we will be able to lock poverty in the museum’, do you believe that? You have to believe it in order to do the kind of work that you are doing. It means one day; we will be able to eliminate poverty to such an extent that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will not have a conception of what you mean when you talk to them about poverty. They have to go to the museum to see it. Just like now, I have never seen dinosaurs and I could go to a museum to see them, but they were here. So, you have to believe that we can defeat it. The kind of work that you are doing in philanthropy is part of the contribution to defeating poverty because the scourge of poverty in our continent persists, it is very deep and it is generational, which is why we cannot continue to condemn future generations in this kind of a system. Therefore, we have to adopt a systemic approach and a systemic change.


I really applaud you again, I like applauding good things, for choosing a theme of this nature. I would like to really appreciate the work you are doing as delegates. The discussions you had yesterday during the academic conference, included theory papers that were delivered that from a theoretical perspective look at; the nature of poverty, the nature of philanthropy, how philanthropy can play a role in this world, how social investment can play a role in defeating poverty, and also, crises in that happen in our continent.


Again, I have also been fortunate in my life to have played the role of Chief Corporate Social Investment Officer, that is actually how my career evolved. It was amazing because it started in the nonprofit sector, and I was working for an organisation that obviously looked for funding from companies and multinationals. One of the big organisations in the energy industry was looking for someone who was going to help them with their corporate social investment, and they were looking for a young officer. That is how I entered the energy industry, and so yes, I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been on the grant-requesting side of the table, and also the grant-making side of the table. I know both sides of this, and both of us need each other.


This is why I like CAPSI. It joins philanthropy and social investment, and it is important to get both sides. I am particularly pleased with CAPSI, which is the Center on African Philanthropy and Social Investment. It is one of our centers of excellence here at Wits Business School, that has us apart. We are the only school in Africa to offer formal academic programmes and executive education courses in the field of African philanthropy and social investment. I remember when I was in your role, there actually was no formal programme for it, and so I think it is important for us to popularise it, making sure that we advertise it and tell as many people as possible about it. That way we can raise the capacity of practitioners in all fields, whether they are in the private sector, in the NGO world, in community organising, or in the public sector and government because all of us need to be equipped with skills and talents to be able to do this amazing and important work.


We support CAPSI in particular because, since 2017, it has been an international hub of knowledge, record-keeping, and research into philanthropy. What it means for us as Africans, not as it is understood by the Western world, is its role in building a fair and sustainable equitable future for all Africans. Now I can go on and on about aid in our continent, how it has created dependency syndrome, emasculated us, and how it is sometimes used with these reciprocal deals that are put in place in the name of aid when the money actually revolves back into Europe. In my space, the energy space, I am very passionate about really destroying those kinds of mindsets. Particularly, I use the word because I have been in energy, which also involves the extractive industry where you go out, dig a hole, and get out gas, oil, or minerals. The whole philosophy of the Western world has been, and I use these words quite regularly for those who have heard me speak because I want to impress this in everybody’s mind who is doing it, particularly in the business world. This whole supply chain system is based on the principle of ‘Pit to Port’. A pit is a hole, you find whatever you want to find, whether it is oil, gas, minerals, gold, or diamonds, and the supply chain you make is rolled to the port. This means you need to take that mineral either to the seaport, or the airport, and it leaves our continent. The same applies to a lot of aid that is higher up.


I have been part of many aid organisations that are globally based. I am a critic now, but I do want to make this point, where technical assistance is offered, but the only people you can use as consultants are those that come from the country that has given you the aid. We cannot go on like that. We need to refuse and raise our own technical assistance, capacity, and excellence, to be able to deliver philanthropy ourselves as Africans. Do you agree with me? That is what we need to do. I am off the script now, but I get very passionate about this. I really want to make sure that some of you, and I can say you are the next generation of leadership in this space, need to have the passion that what we do, we do it ourselves as Africans, for ourselves, in our African way, and in the way we think is best for Africa.


CAPSI is an embodiment of the mission statement of the Wits Business School. An embodiment of the business school in the sense that; what we want to deliver as a business school is a young leader who is ethical, competent, agile, and has a passion for being a force for positive good in our country, in our continent, and throughout the world. Why ethical? Our continent is riddled with unethical leaders. Someone said that Africa is not poor, it just has poor leaders, and corrupt leaders – let us call it out! I am praying and wishing that they be arrested and be in orange overalls as soon as possible so that we send a message that as a leader, you need to be ethical.


Competent. There are times when aid does not reach the people it needs to reach because of incompetent leaders. I wish for you to have a sense of wanting to be an excellent and competent leader so that you can execute and deliver efficiently, fast, and in agile ways to the marginalised and the poor of this continent. Many supply chain and logistics and food programs, whether the United Nations or AU, or all those other programmes need excellent leaders. That is you and me, and that is why I have spent the latter part of my life focusing on developing ethical, competent, and agile leaders.


The world is changing so fast that if you are not agile in the nonprofit sector, you have to be nimble and fast, be able to respond with lightning speed when there is a crisis and be able to make decisions with very limited information. Yesterday was sitting with one guy who said, ‘What is leadership really about, do we train people to make decisions?’ In my role as the leader of the school, the quality of the school will be determined by the quality of my decisions, and let me tell you, the quality of your life will also be determined by the quality of your decisions. So, agility in making decisions is critical. Therefore, we want positive change. We do not want to train young MBAs who are focused only on; I want to finish here, and I am going to get a big salary, a big car, a corner office, and stay in a big house. I tell our young students to change that mindset. There will always be somebody driving a better car, a better title, and a better salary than yours. So, if you chase that, you enter a rat race. The sad part is that even if you were in that rat race, you remain a rat, and you cannot afford to reduce yourself to a rat.


I want you to communicate this message to our younger people because you are closer to them.

That is why we support CAPSI, we do it to empower education, relevant research, and impactful public discourse like this one. Everything that we do is based on the principles of critical thinking, innovation, and sustainability. I do not need to remind you that one of the themes of this conference is sustainability. There has never been any time in this world that we face an existential threat as mankind, and climate change is one of those existing existential threats to all of us. I used to spend a lot of time traveling around the world, you know when you are in a multinational company the way I used to be, I would spend a lot of time outside this country. I used to see only floods in India during the monsoon rains, and I thought they would never come to South Africa. But we were shocked in KZN when we saw those floods. Some of you know that there is a massive refinery in Durban called SAPREF. Those floods flooded the refinery to the roof, and you know that if water does get into your car’s engine, it destroys it. I am passionate about this thing, so Professor Moyo invited me to come to speak about it. The whole refinery is dead now and will cost billions of Rands to fix, all because of floods. We have never seen that before. So let us stop the debate about whether science is right or not and get on with the work of sustainability.


CAPSI is also aligned with our vision and mission. We share a passion for our continent, and a sense of agency to find solutions to issues that threaten our sustainability. This conference has come at a very opportune time in our history as we grapple with life after COVID-19, as the world struggles with understanding massive changes of climate change, and the war that has just come out of the blue and had a huge impact in terms of food shortages, supply chain disruptions, in Ukraine and Russia. The impact is amazing. Some of us who are involved in business can feel it. Things you were able to order and deliver on time are not there, you go to the shelves of the stores, and nothing is there – food security is threatened. So, we are grappling with all these changes but let us continue with our work of research education.


This conference is where we grapple with these questions. It brings together leading academics in the sector, and today’s programme is focused on technology and young people. I have already made a lot of my views on young people, technology, and the transformation of our continent. I wish to thank you Prof. Moyo and our partners for collaborating with us as WBS we are giving you full support. I personally, as the head of the school, have my full support. Let me thank and pay tribute to our partners Trust Africa, Southern Africa Trust, Higher Life Foundation, African Philanthropy Forum, African Philanthropy Network, and the East Africa Philanthropy Network, let us give them a round of applause.


Together as academics, experts, thought leaders, and practitioners, we can make a profound difference in the sustainable growth and development of our continent. Asante sana. Thank you. Ngiyabonga. Enkosi.