World Economic Forum: Business transparency vital for human rights of Africa’s youth
African political and business leaders must promote transparent and accountable financial systems that promote economic and social rights such as education and healthcare for the continent’s youth, Amnesty International said today as the World Economic Forum got under way in Cape Town.
The organisation is also calling for the promotion of free movement of people, access to information, a curb on corporate land grabs and the promotion of freedom of expression.
“Young African people are saying that business is ‘rising’ at their expense. Business and political leaders are focusing almost exclusively on economic growth, a measurement that ignores marginalization and deep inequalities. Africa is losing billions of dollars annually to illicit financial flows and corporate tax avoidance, robbing countries of resources they could use for education and healthcare, leaving many young people living in poverty on a continent rich with mineral resources,” said Edward Ndopu, Amnesty International’s Regional Activism and Youth Coordinator.
Nipping corrupt and unethical practices in the bud is crucial to addressing inequality and reallocating resources in support of funding crucial human rights, such as the right to education and health. This must be done in order to achieve sustainable development goals.
Five recommendations – adopted on the side lines of the World Economic Forum – will be unveiled by Amnesty International’s multi-stakeholder campaign, #AfricaNot4Sale. The campaign is calling for ethical business operations on the African continent and full transparency on the relationship between business and government.
On corporate “land grabs” in particular, #AfricaNot4Sale wants to see the establishment of an independent continental body that monitors and tracks land acquisition and forced evictions.
“Many people across the continent are forced out of their homes and thrown in the streets to make way for infrastructure projects that do not benefit them. We must stop cheapening the lives of Africans in this way,” said Edward Ndopu.
Amid restrictions on free movement of people, closed cyberspace in many parts of the continent, lack of business transparency, land grabs for profit purposes and the suppression of freedom of speech - #AfricaNot4Sale has adopted five key resolutions it is now taking to the World Economic Forum on Africa.
The five key recommendations from the #AfricaNot4Sale network are:
- Promote and strengthen the regulation of large-scale land acquisitions through the establishment of an independent continental body that monitors and tracks land acquisition and forced evictions, in the interests of an Africa where communities are not disposed of and their right to life is protected.
- Promote and protect the right to information through the development and adoption of an African Union Charter on internet rights and freedoms, in the interests of an online Africa.
- Strengthen the regulation of illicit financial flows and corporate tax avoidance through the establishment of an independent continental body that monitors and tracks such practices, in the interests of an ethical and transparent Africa.
- Call on African leaders to develop and implement progressive migration policies, in the interests of a mobile continent where the rights of migrants and refugees are protected.
- Business and governments should promote the arts as a means to fostering freedom of expression through investment in the creative industries, in the interests of promoting African creativity.
The five key recommendations by #AfricaNot4Sale were adopted at the roundtable that took place at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 10 April 2015. The roundtable critiqued the “Africa Rising” narrative of a future rooted in economic growth alone and suggested alternative models. It brought together 20 remarkable young human rights champions from across Africa as part of a two-day dialogue on corporate accountability in the lives of the continent’s youth.
Africa is home to the world’s largest youth demographic. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the region’s average age sits at 19.7 years. This is in stark contrast to the average age of 30.4 for the world as a whole. Despite making up such a large proportion of Africa’s population, young people remain largely disaffected and disenfranchised in terms of social and economic rights.