That summit led to ambitious development goals, and in the two decades since, a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, while human rights have been firmly placed on the development agenda. But much more remains to be done, particularly regarding reproductive health rights, and women's advancement, according to the UN. As a keynote speaker in
In an interview after his presentation at the
NA: How do you see corporations helping with the issues of population, development and human rights?
BC: Firstly, the private sector needs to be brought into the conversation before decisions are made because the private sector has a massive role to play. The days of everyone trying to do things for themselves are gone, including in the private sector.
As a mobile phone company, once upon a time we were able to do everything - we'd build our own base stations, etc. Now, in order to deliver some of our solutions, we have to work in partnership ... with development partners, with NGOs, with governments, and we're finding some interesting experiences. We're getting some really good and useful solutions, but we're also learning a lot.
NA: How will such partnerships evolve?
I will declare that I'm a member of the UN Global Compact Board [a voluntary UN initiative that encourages businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies] and therefore the first thing is to advocate that the private sector gets involved because then the four major pillars [of the Global Compact] will start to be addressed and companies will start to understand why it is they need to deal with human rights, why they need to deal with labour rights, why they need to deal with the environment, why they need to deal with ethics and to work against corruption. Once you get that message, once you understand it, your whole mindset changes.
[According to UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon, the Global Compact "asks companies to embrace universal principles and to partner with the UN. It has grown to become a critical platform for the UN to engage effectively with enlightened global business. By being involved in the policy initiative, " business, as a primary driver of globalisation, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere."]
NA: Is there an environment of entrepreneurship in
Some people say that
NA: Rural areas in
Because we say our purpose is to transform lives, then anything that transforms lives is part of our sphere. We look at a country where 70% to 80% is off the electricity grid and we see that as an opportunity to provide renewable energy solutions.
So you take solar panels, you take some LED lights, you take a mobile charging unit, you take a SIM card, you take M-Pesa. You take all of that together and you give a poor rural Kenyan the opportunity to buy renewable energy at an affordable price that is cheaper than kerosene, and much safer than kerosene. After a year of paying micro payments, the product is then yours and you no longer pay for electricity to have your phone charged. You and I would love that.
NA: What, in your view, are some of the most pressing issues facing
I think that across
We'd absolutely like to see corruption eradicated. Not reduced, but eradicated because it's the poor who suffer, and it is development that suffers at the end of the day. And more and more shareholders need to be building confidence and investing in the continent, and they're not going to do that if you have a high level of corruption as you do.
NA: Is this level so much higher than in other regions?
It doesn't matter. It shouldn't happen at all. It's not a question of what degree of corruption is okay. A zero degree of corruption is what's okay. NA
We'd like to see corruption eradicated. Not reduced, but eradicated.
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