The African Business Roundtable stays firm as Africa's private sector conduit to the world
The African Business Roundtable came into being in an era when Africa was hit by a horrendous economic climate which rocked the world. Between the ﬁght for independence in many countries and the end of apartheid in South Africa, Africa’s private sector barely had any structure in the 1960s. As the continent suffered a decline in economic growth by the mid 80s, there came more things to worry about: economic and social crises, shortage of foreign direct investment into the continent, a languishing private sector and a downturn in the overall GDP of the African economy.
It was a time that saw a downslide in demand for raw materials in the international market where they were sold for peanuts. It was also a period of dramatic increases in the prices of finished and imported goods, making them out of reach for the average African. As a result, African economies could not compete in the international scene, which favored industrialized and exporting nations.
It was this dire situation that made necessary the forming of an organization capable of mobilizing Africa’s entrepreneurs and representing their interests internationally.
Ambassador Harold E. Doley Jr: “The African Business Roundtable should be in the fore front of all intra and international trade development and commerce because that’s where the expertise should lie and you have to bring in people. The wheel has been invented, so use the wheel that Babacar made for you and use those roads and wheel and create commerce channels for distribution. The channel of commerce should come from the product of operations of the members of the ABR, that’s what it was created to be and that is what we must be assured occurs.”
A lot has changed today, in no small part due to the ABR’s forging of alliances with the UNDP, USAID, UNIDO, ECOWAS and many more international bodies that share a similar vision and see the potential for Africa’s local economy to impact the world.
African Business Roundtable 30th Anniversary Commemorative Book: “As Africa’s private sector gains multiplicity, private organizations and businesses within and outside the country alike are the next obvious point on our agenda. We will endeavor to fast-track partnerships and collaborations to assist in making the African private sector the driving force for development that we know it can be. In doing this, we believe that even with all of the challenges we have faced so far, we can regain our place of pride as Africa’s leading association of businesses and business leaders and push our primary mandates forward. After much reﬂection, we have come to realise that we must ﬁnd our own way. We must look back so we can look in to see what we can do better. Importantly, we need to do more for Africa’s private sector amidst these changing times.”
This is the commitment of the African Business Roundtable to the continent. Over the past three decades while wars, pandemics, coups and political hostilities raged in Africa, the ABR has remained unshaken in its vision to see that African private organizations and businesses get the help and sustenance they need. As the foremost non-partisan enterprise working solely for success of the African private sector, the ABR has not had a bump-free ride. As with an over-confident teenager, lessons have been learned the hard way and over the years, the diversity of the organization has been turned into its most formidable strength.
About the African Business Roundtable
The African Development Bank Group set up the African Business Roundtable in 1990. Today the ABR is Africa’s foremost and continent-wide association of businesses and business leaders, and is the representative of the African Business Society to the United Nations. An independent, non-partisan, non-profit private sector funded organization, The African Business Roundtable is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and is the only organization representing the African Private Sector within ECOSOC.