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14 Sep 2014

Africa overview

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"Business & human rights in Africa: Time for a responsibility revolution" - September 2014

This overview was prepared for the United Nations' first regional forum on business & human rights in Africa, 16-18 September 2014 in Addis Ababa.

Investment in Africa is booming. Citizens increasingly demand accountability from their leaders and from companies. Poverty is declining and health is broadly improving. But the huge potential for advances in human rights will not be realised with business as usual. Hunger and illness; exclusion of certain ethnic groups, women and LGBT people; lack of transparency and accountability; insecurity and violent conflict continue to plague many African countries – including some that are most successful at attracting investment.

In this report, we analyse 429 approaches to companies regarding their human rights impacts in Africa. In over 50% of the responses, companies offered only general responses rather than specifically addressing concerns. 66% denied the claims, rather than acknowledging them in whole or in part, or committing to investigate them. Overall, very few companies committed to changing their conduct, only doing so in 9% of the responses that we obtained. 

Key issues: 

  • New investments in oil & gas and agriculture: Opportunities and risks
  • Digital revolution in Africa: Freedom of information or tool of oppression?
  • Mining, oil & gas: The troubling history of the “resource curse”, unresolved
  • Promising initiatives & the need for action

Executive summary: English   French

Full report:                    English