Powerful coalition of African influencers to drive the continent’s development agenda, launched at UN General Assembly

September 23, 2019

Ms. Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General (right) and Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP . Photos: Weiying Zhu

New York, 22 September 2019 – A powerful coalition of current and future African leaders in business, academia & the arts have come on one big platform to help Africa steer its own development agenda.  The African Influencers for Development (AID) initiative, launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is at the heart of UNDP’s new partnership strategy for Africa, to engage with African champions who are already working to drive sustainable development across the continent.  

“This initiative proves that Africa’s rapidly evolving development challenges can be met by upscaling Africa’s own innovative solutions. I agree with the view that Africa should no longer be treated as a space for testing ideas, many of which eventually fail, but as a goldmine where development takes place”, Ms. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations noted at the launch.

UNDP’s partnership approach works through people, products and platforms to create a movement of influencers that cuts across sectors and generations. Supergroups of present and future champions in business, academia, arts and entertainment including youth, women, start-ups and SMEs will partner with UNDP in 46 African countries to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Africans need to ‘own the space’ and become stronger actors - with stronger voices - in the development of the continent. Key stakeholder groups such as Africa’s private sector and academia must play a greater role in achieving sustainable development”, said Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP.  

During the event, a key product of the AID initiative, the African Business Map, was unveiled. The map is a one-stop shop for curated data on African businesses that identifies business opportunities and allows partners to co-discover and co-create innovative development solutions tailored to Africa’s opportunities and challenges. The plan is to create other products such as the Africa Genius video series, the AID lecture series and various knowledge products.

In addition, an innovative platform, the African Renewable Energy Forum, co-created by UNDP and the Sahara Group was introduced to participants. This forum aims to expand access to clean and affordable energy (SDG 7) through policy dialogue, partnerships and new energy initiatives to help Africa achieve its renewable energy potential.

“As a leading energy provider in Africa, the Sahara Group sees its partnership with UNDP as very critical in facilitating access to reliable, clean and affordable energy across Africa. We are excited about the journey towards transforming Africa and keen on building more partnerships for the achievement of the SDG7”, stated Mr. Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director, Sahara Group.

Discussions at the launch of the AID initiative focused on leveraging Africa’s creativity and innovation through technology, innovative financing and engaging Africa’s youth and growing women-led SMEs. Various areas of collaboration on the SDGs were identified for programming, to connect the Diaspora to the continent’s development. 

The participants of the event included captains of Industry in Africa in diverse sectors, from the diaspora, and young dynamic entrepreneurs and innovative inventors from the continent. Energized and excited about the African Influencers for Development initiative, they pledged to join forces with UNDP to discover and create innovative solutions for sustainable development across the continent. 

Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP

Mr. Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director, Sahara Group

Participants at the event

For media enquiry, please contact:
In New York : Praise Nutakor (praise.nutakor@undp.org)

Communications Specialist, UNDP, Regional Bureau for Africa

+1732 405 79 40