“UNCTAD is the principal organ of the UN General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. The primary objective of the UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance and technology.

The conference ordinarily meets once in four years and this year Nairobi was hosting the 14th conference.”

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I was humbled to have been selected to attend the conference. In view of the work that we do within the continent this was indeed an opportunity to hear more about new policies, place ourselves in the limelight, network, ensure that our strategy fits that of the SDG, share ideas with some of the “brains of Africa” and of course for intellectual purposes.

The conference, which lasted a week, was attended by policy makers: Head of States, Ministers, and Head of institutions within and without the continent.

In a continent highly efficient in elaborating key documents and ineffective in implementing them, the theme “From decisions to actions” could not have come at a better time.

With great minds progress is made but with great minds difference in perspective is also experienced. The realities faced by each continent and countries were quite noticeable as they each shared their experience and how they have been able to break barriers and surpass expectation.

I have also met brilliant women who I do not always meet. Focused women who are catalyst in their different fields. Ambitious women with a purpose. It was indeed a great forum.

Some of the inputs i took with me are the following:

Globalization

  • For globalization to be substantial, it must work for each and every individual country
  • International committee should partner with local government to empower the community. Africa is not in need of constant aid but most importantly capacity building.
  • Development is a complex subject. It requires political stability, infrastructure, good governance and human skills just to name a few
  • We need to integrate African more in the globalization sphere
  • There is an urgent need to move away from the tendency of “one size fits all”
  • Many international aids come with conditions thus limiting Africa’s bargaining power
  • Most importantly African countries need to evaluate the impact of globalization. The question that kept us thinking was the following “why should developing countries embrace a system of globalization when they won’t benefit much from it as inequality follows a weaker growth?”

Government and Private sector

  • Create trust between both parties
  • Create policies that help reduce cost of the private sector such as electricity in the manufacturing market
  • Create policies for rural development
  • Increase trade within Africa. Not all African commodities are similar and those that are, grow in different seasons. It is important that Africans learn to trade with their fellow Africans.

Women

  • In the word of Bob Collimore: “We loose 28 trillion if we do not invest in women and include women in policy”

In my side-line conversation, participants complained of how monotonous the topics were and the ineffectiveness of Government in implementing the policies and creating sustainability.  My thoughts were different. I believe that for Africa to define its place globally the change starts with us and not Government. How do you as head of institution ensure your company fits into Government policies? Taxation is a major financial resource for the country, are your staff tax compliant or do you invade taxes? Does your strategic plan take into account some of the key element of the SDG? How do you ensure that your organization become a delivery channel for the implementation of Government policies?

As one speaker mentioned:  ‘Development is a complex subject. It requires political stability, infrastructure, good governance, human skills and a strong partnership with the private sector.’

It starts with YOU.