Supply Chain, Climate Change, COVID-19, Sustainable Development, Entrepreneurship
“The interdependence of the whole world must guide our roadmap.”
These penetrating words were spoken by Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD15) on October 5, 2021. The CBIAC theme rests upon this belief that countries are interdependent and that aspects of the global economy operate synergistically.
CBIAC will gather business leaders, NGO leaders, researchers, and students from African countries, from Wagner College, and from the local New York City community to discuss the most pressing issues impacting businesses in African countries. The issues discussed will revolve around the reciprocal impact of businesses, government, and society. The impetus of the conference is the discussions held at UNCTAD 14 and UNCTAD15 (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) conferences, held in Nairobi, Kenya in July 2016 and Barbados in October 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a renewed sense of urgency of the necessity of focusing on the synergies between Supply Chain, Climate Change, COVID-19, and Sustainable Development as they affect business on the African continent, and how what occurs in one part of the world, affects the whole world.
Photo: participants at the 2017 CBIAC.
COVID19 did not cause the inequalities within and between countries, rather it laid them bare and exacerbated them. The lack of sustainable development, trade inequalities, debt service, and lack of water are problematic for addressing the pandemic. Further, national debt service has taken money away from health programs and other programs. COVID19 debt for healthcare, vaccines, and PPE will hamper future development and will push countries back into poverty and make it more difficult for them to hit sustainable development goals. Many small countries lost 50% to 70% of their revenue due to the pandemic, exacerbating the difficulty of meeting healthcare and education needs. Wealthy countries ordered 5 times as many vaccine doses as they needed, leaving few vaccine doses available to poor countries which remain vaccinated at only 2% to 5% of their populations, leading to the variants which are now affecting the wealthy countries, and which continues to negatively affect businesses.
Small, developing countries are not the cause of COVID19 or climate change, but they are the ones suffering the most. For many countries, climate change is an existential threat, especially if the 1.5C degree limit of the Paris Accord is not reached. Climate change, trade, and peace are linked: for example, in NE Nigeria, Lake Chad has decreased by 90% since 1960, and the loss of fish and industry is thought to have given fertile ground to Boko Haram.
Annually, trillions of dollars in raw materials leave developing countries and are sent to developed countries, making advancement in developing countries unsustainable. There are massive opportunities for FDI into Africa. While exports from developed countries have returned to pre-pandemic levels, exports from developing countries have reached only 6% of pre-pandemic levels. However, intra-Africa trade via The African Free Trade Market and increased multilateralism between Africa and the Caribbean has helped African countries improve. The multilateralism within Africa and between Africa and the Caribbean can increase sustainable development and can pressure large countries to have true global multilateralism.
An important issue for discussion is what are the best methods to encourage entrepreneurship in Africa? The power of large technology companies hinders the work of small businesses and hampers creativity. There is not a global framework for corporate tax for countries to obtain revenue based on the activity that occurs in their countries, which represents an unfair disadvantage against entrepreneurs. Trade is now not just at shipping ports but is conducted digitally, so trade is now in private hands more than ever. This private oligopoly must be addressed if development is to be sustainable and entrepreneurship is to flourish.
The pandemic uncovered problems in the supply chain in virtually all industries (e.g., PPE, medical, chip shortages). Significant pressure was placed on supply chains, especially for companies that had single-source suppliers in other countries, such as the chip shortages in Asia negatively affecting automobile production in Europe. Some companies pivoted: (e.g., began making sanitizer and PPE; hotels became quarantine centers, etc.). Shipping costs are still skyrocketing raising serious inflationary concerns. This inflation negatively impacts food insecurity in SIDS (Small Island Developing States). Problems with production include new industrialization and increasing nationalism.
Background Material About the Conference Theme
* UNCTAD15 Program
* The Bridgetown Accord: Creative Economy and Digitalization Forum
* The Bridgetown Covenant: From inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all
* The Spirit of Speightstown: From inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all