Africa told to create Marshal plan against youth unemployment

By M&M Reporter

Africa needs a Marshall Plan to deal rising tide of youth unemployment, UN Kenya resident coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee has said.


Speaking during the closing of Kenya Impact Dialogue organized by Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) Chatterjee said impact investment is where the private sector can make huge profits.

“We need a Marshall Plan of employment for Africa and this will come not from governments, but from the private sector. Kenya can be in food surplus in the next five years as seeds and technology adapt to climate change, it’s about getting the big players together to invest into these innovations.”

Challenging impact investors to think big, Chatterjee added that there was room for profitable investments through economies of scale.

“Kenya needs to make itself creditworthy and investor-friendly. The NAB is great because it’s coming from a country that also helped to create the SDGs” he said.

Principal, Secretary to the State Department for Industrialization, Betty Maina, said the formation of GSG National Advisory Boards (NABs), presents an opportunity to identify opportunities and resolve challenges faced by impact investors and entrepreneurs by engaging policymakers and informing the development of national impact investment strategies.

“We appreciate the platform provided by GSG for countries engagement to co-create policy interventions for inclusive and sustainable development through impact investment,” she added.

Maryanne Ochola, East Africa Regional Chapter Manager at Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), kicked off proceedings with a wake-up call, saying time was running out in the fight to eradicate poverty.

“We have a financing gap of $2.5 trillion towards the development of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) We need to acknowledge that governments can’t do this alone and we need private capital to meet societal needs. Impact Investment affords us the opportunity to unlock financial and social good,” she said.

Ochola explained that globally, impact investment has grown by 41% in terms of compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach over $250 billion in assets under management (AUM). But which remains a drop in the ocean with capital largely skewed towards large ticket sizes at the expense of small and growing businesses that can also transform an economy.

Susie Kitchens, the British High Commissioner, said that the SDG’s are facing a global annual investment gap of $2.5 trillion per year. “We have a great opportunity to shape the landscape and to drive forward the equitable march of progress to drive prosperity and security. We need bankable, investment-ready projects,” she added.

Kenya is acknowledged as a regional hub for impact investing, being the third largest private equity market in sub-Saharan Africa, she noted.

In the second Keynote Address, Private Capital for Public Good, Ambassador Martin Kimani, Director of Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Centre and Special Envoy CVE, asked: “How will your work reinforce the institutions, how will your work help us do a better job?”

“The impact movement needs to be informed by what’s local and specific. Social enterprises must work with government and work with the political institutions that stop terrorism,” he said.

Amar Inamdar, Managing Director at KawiSafi Ventures, said in the Capital and Impact keynote speech that impact markets represent a “tremendous opportunity to solve problems”.

“Let’s crowd each other in,” he said. “East Africa is a hotbed of opportunity,” he added, naming mobile payments company Mpesa as a prime example. “Capital will flow… to the highest return and lowest risk and there is a huge opportunity to demonstrate and a huge opportunity to lower the risk.”

In the Closing Panel on Building a Kenyan NAB, Arif Neky, Senior Advisor – UN Strategic Partnerships Coordinator – SDG Partnership Platform, highlighted the need create practical ecosystems for partners on the ground. “We would be delighted to support as the NAB in Kenya is established. I think GSG has come to town at the right time.” He said.

Mr. Neky continued: “We need to focus on those which have been left behind, looking at the SDG partnership platform to identify bankable projects that help address some critical issues like health and poverty

“We need to aggregate many partners together in one common form and the NAB can help catalyze this. Is there the opportunity to move from pilots – which are puffs of excellence tin a sea of deprivation – how do we make sure that those solutions are in effect?”

Duncan Onyango of Acumen said any NAB “should embrace its convening power – the right people at the right time. How to ensure we get local funds moving into the sector  [the NAB] will ensure that.” Peter Oloo, CEO of the Social Enterprise Society of Kenya, agreed, “The Kenyan NAB has really come at the right time.” Kenya has the charity act – “We need the policy and legal framework in place for everything else to fall in place.”

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