To: National and International desks
ABUJA, Nigeria, July 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Former U.S. president, William Jefferson Clinton, yesterday delivered remarks to more than 1,000 delegates from throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States at the opening luncheon of the 7th Leon H. Sullivan Summit in Abuja, Nigeria.
The event marked the official opening of this year's conference themed "Africa: A Continent of Opportunities -- Building Partnerships for Success" and was hosted by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Some of the attending dignitaries included: Ambassador Andrew Young, co-chair, Leon H. Sullivan Summit VII; His Excellency President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania; His Excellency Prime Minister Absalon Yhemba Olanini of Swaziland; Hon. Mlam Nasir El-Rufal, Nigerian minister of the federal capital territory; Basil Omiyi, Shell Petroleum Development Co.; Hope Masters, president, The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation; Carlton A. Masters, co-chair, Leon H. Sullivan Summit VII; and former Jamaican prime minister Percival J. Patterson.
During his remarks, the former president addressed the work of the Clinton Foundation on the continent, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as the important role of Africa in the global economy. Organized by President Clinton, the Clinton Foundation is a non-government organization (NGO) focused on global health issues. Through its various initiatives, President Clinton promotes the values of fairness and opportunity for all. He stressed the profound importance of non-government organizations to the development of African nations.
"The work of non-government organizations is sweeping the world," he stated. "Working in Africa on HIV/AIDS and promoting development, is at the core of my philosophy about the mission of NGOs."
President Clinton also spoke of his commitment to the Global Sullivan Principles (GSP), a framework for responsible development, designed to encourage companies throughout the world to support human rights, economic opportunity and social justice in the workplace and in the communities in which they do business. Since the inception of these principles, many companies have endorsed them, with at least 40 new companies signed up to do business in African countries over the past year. President Obasanjo has supported the GSP, endorsing its high standard for good business practices.
In compliance with the Global Sullivan Principles and its commitment to social justice, President Clinton urged attendees to support collaborations between non-government organizations (NGOs), government, and business and local communities to help African nations across the continent achieve economic viability.
"The biggest challenge facing Africa is building the systematic capacity to help the people who live here to help themselves," he declared. "People need an organized way to build a better future."
Hope Masters, President and CEO of The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation and daughter of the late Leon H. Sullivan praised President Clinton for his dedication to and support of Africa's development. "President Clinton is known throughout the world for his intellectual brilliance, his ability to improve the quality of individual lives and his genuine compassion. To everyone on this continent, he is known as a true friend."
Additional highlights of the day included key plenary sessions and forums addressing financing and investing in Africa's private sector and empowering African entrepreneurs.
-- Financing and investing in Africa's private sector
Developing and sustaining a private sector remains the central challenge for Africa's economic renaissance. Hosted by Dr. Bamanaga Tukur, Executive Vice President, African Business Roundtable, speakers discussed some of the opportunities and challenges encountered when investing in Africa's private sector.
-- Remittances: Bringing the Capital Back Home
Remittances form an important component of capital transfers to most developing countries. Panelists examined some of the major issues involved in harnessing the economic potential of remittances. -- SMEs: Empowering African entrepreneurs
Chaired by John Bryant, President and CEO of Operation Hope, this forum explored successful strategies that small and medium entrepreneurs can adopt to excel in Africa's investment environment.
-- Assessing African Markets: An Investor's Perspective
A strong financial sector is needed to support the development of private enterprise in Africa. Expert panelists shared a range of experiences in the banking and private sectors, such as providing long-term capital financing in developing countries, as well as operations of capital markets in developing countries.
The mission of the Sullivan Summits, first created in 1991 by the late Rev. Leon H. Sullivan, is to build a bridge of relationships, networks and personal experience among Africans, African-Americans, Africans in Diaspora and all people committed to the development of the continent of Africa.