Convener's Address

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					Convener’s Desk

Excitedly, I welcome you all to Lagos, Nigeria and to the premier edition of the Africa CEO Roundtable
and Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (The AR-CSR™). The aspiration and desire to put
together an event of this scale and standard was fostered by nothing more than an interest in shaping
the vision of responsible business and sustainability on the African continent. This 2011 edition of the
ARCSR™ recognizes the importance of the continent setting its own agenda, thus the theme of this
conference. With Africa economies witnessing a great deal of transformation, encouraging patterns of
growth and investment, and Africa becoming an attractive destination for investment, it is very
imperative that African economies build the requirements and pre-requisites for businesses to engage
actively in the different aspects of social responsibility.

The matter is not as simple, as you may have recognized with your own experiences and with the
discussions that would be taking place during this conference. It cannot be left to good intentions or the
attitude of ‘doing good’ alone. There needs to be a dependable national framework as well as
supporting institutional arrangements that involve government, civil society organizations, as well as the
different types of business: private/public, local/foreign, large/small, listed, and closed and or family-
owned businesses.

It is very critical for African businesses and economies to examine what has happened over the past few
decades and ask ourselves if we want to play the game as usual where we are waiting to reach a stage
when the importance of corporate social responsibility is forced on us, or we begin the learning by
starting late – but learning from the experiences of others, both the positive experiences and the
negative ones.

Each session theme, sub-themes and speakers have been carefully selected to ensure we have a well-
rounded and effective conference. As you will realize from the many experts present over the next two
days, CSR is a subject that covers a wide spectrum of issues such as business ethics, corporate
governance, socially responsible investing, environmental sustainability and community investment.

The AR-CSR™ is not a talk shop. Beyond it being an annual event, we are working hard to ensure it is one
of the leading initiatives and a think-tank on CSR & Sustainability issues in Africa. The report of the AR-
CSR™ 2011 will be presented at the 5th International Conference on CSR coming up in Berlin in
September 2012.

At the CEO Roundtable, we will be launching an Africa-wide journal entitled, “CSR Files™” which is a
resource for all sustainability matters. We are also presenting at this event, our quarterly Sustainability
event titled “Sustainable Conversations™”, with a first edition slated for October 2011 in Accra, Ghana in
collaboration with our partners in Ghana and hopefully, the Ghana Business Council.

We will be launching by the end of this event, the “Africa Alliance on CSR” – a continent wide
organizational membership framework modeled after the European one.

For each of these, we welcome more partners and would-be sponsors. At ThistlePraxis Consulting, we
have worked hard these past few months to ensure we stamp our mark, our credibility and our
seriousness at bridging the gap on issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainability in Africa.
In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to President Mary
Robinson; our Lead Discussant, Prof Craig Smith; our distinguished panelists for accepting to be part of
this auspicious event. I say thank you to all our speakers for accepting to share your expertise; to our
sponsors for believing in this vision and supporting us; to our partners, thank you for lending your brand
names to this initiative; to the Board of Directors of ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited - your support and
encouragement got us this far; to my colleagues at ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited – Emilia Asim-Ita and
her team – thank you for your tenacity and hard work; to our delegates - thank you all for coming and
sharing your views.

As we set the agenda for Africa on sustainability issues, it is my sincere belief that we would join hands
in the building up of a healthy environment for businesses as well as create prosperity for the continent.

Welcome once again.

Ini Onuk

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