On March 11, the IGD Leadership Council met in Washington for a series of focused discussions on IGD’s strategic initiatives in Africa. Topics included the continent’s enormous need for reliable power and how to train and educate its growing workforce. The meeting also celebrated IGD’s first decade, honoring outgoing President & CEO Jennifer Potter. Leadership Council Co-Chairs General Colin Powell and Secretary Madeleine Albright expressed their ongoing commitment to IGD during the next phase of its growth and welcomed new President & CEO Mark Green.
IGD Board Chair Rob Mosbacher moderated an in-depth conversation on how to significantly increase electrical power generation across the continent—a critical need for raising living standards and encouraging economic growth. Panelists Andrew Alli of Africa Finance Corporation, Joe Brandt of ContourGlobal, and Paul Hanrahan of American Capital Infrastructure all agreed that a primary obstacle is the length of time it takes to bring new generation facilities online, from 5 to 7 years on average. Participants discussed IGD’s interest in streamlining standardized power agreements, as well as a number of complementary ideas such as off-grid and micro-grid solutions for rural areas.
A wide-ranging discussion of Africa’s workforce development needs was led by Leadership Council Corporate Co-Chair Bill Green and featured Jean-Louis Ekra of African Export-Import Bank. CEOs with operations in Africa spoke of the intense competition for talent and the difficulty they face finding people with the right skills and experience. While there was broad agreement that business has a vested interest in improving education outcomes, there was also recognition of the daunting enormity of the education and training deficits Africa faces. Over the coming year, IGD will continue to work to raise awareness of the common employment challenges businesses face across sectors in Africa, to showcase corporate best practices, and to explore opportunities for companies to work collectively in addressing these gaps.