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The Dark Side of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement: How ESG Impact is Being Sacrificed for Quick Profits

As the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) gains momentum, many are hailing it as a game-changer for the continent’s economic development. But beneath the surface, a more sinister reality is unfolding. The pursuit of quick profits is being prioritized over environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact, threatening the very fabric of African societies.

The ESG Crisis in Africa

While some African countries have made progress in implementing ESG policies, the reality is that many are still struggling to report on their sustainability performance. A recent KPMG survey found that only 56% of the top 100 companies in Nigeria, the Middle East, and Africa reported on their sustainability performance, lagging behind international standards. This lack of transparency and accountability is perpetuating a culture of exploitation, where companies prioritize profits over people and the planet.

The Consequences of ESG Neglect

The consequences of neglecting ESG impact are dire. From environmental degradation to social unrest, the effects of unchecked corporate greed are far-reaching and devastating. In Africa, where resources are scarce and communities are already vulnerable, the consequences of ESG neglect are particularly severe.

The AfCFTA: A Recipe for Disaster?

The AfCFTA, touted as a panacea for Africa’s economic woes, is actually a recipe for disaster. By prioritizing trade over ESG impact, the agreement is enabling companies to exploit African resources and labor without accountability. The Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade, for example, is a mere tokenistic gesture, failing to address the systemic issues of labor exploitation and elite capture.

The Need for Urgent Action

It’s time for urgent action to address the ESG crisis in Africa. Companies must prioritize transparency and accountability, reporting on their sustainability performance and adhering to international ESG standards. Governments must implement robust regulations to hold companies accountable and protect the rights of African workers and communities.

Conclusion

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is a ticking time bomb, threatening to unleash a wave of environmental degradation, social unrest, and economic instability on the continent. It’s time for companies and governments to take urgent action to prioritize ESG impact and protect the future of Africa. The consequences of inaction will be catastrophic, and the future of the continent hangs in the balance.



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