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The Africa We Want: Facilitating the Coordination of International Support for Africa’s Development, Peace and Security

The Africa We Want: Facilitating the Coordination of International Support for Africa’s Development, Peace and Security

By Bience Gawanas

Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa

UN Chronicle – Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, Africa has arguably undergone the most dramatic transformations of any region in the world. From a continent largely under colonial rule in the 1940s, the decades that followed would see a multitude of African countries fight for and win independence, while immersed in struggles for socioeconomic development, peace and security.

Today, less than a century later, Africa is a continent ripe with human and natural resources and enormous untapped economic and social potential. It has increasingly pursued a transformational agenda, with the aim of achieving shared prosperity, unity, peace and integration. Its renewed focus on human development has resulted in strengthened social and economic inclusion, improved primary and secondary education opportunities, increased gender equality across the continent, increased longevity and significant reductions in maternal mortality, as well as strengthened regional capacity for identifying and addressing peace and security challenges.

While celebrating these accomplishments and its forward momentum, the continent has also shown strong recognition of the challenges that it continues to face. As such, it is only fitting that Africa is pursuing historically ambitious global and regional frameworks for development, peace and security. The global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals were largely influenced by the Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, through which African Member States negotiated in solidarity to ensure a comprehensive global agenda focused on structural economic transformation, inclusive growth, people-centred development and durable peace and security. Beyond this global framework, the African Union has also adopted Agenda 2063, which is a comprehensive continental framework that aims to achieve the African Union’s vision of an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”—in other words, the Africa We Want.

Africa’s implementation of these two ambitious agendas requires not just a new approach to its own development, and peace and security interventions, but also a realignment of the way the continent interacts and partners with the rest of the world. Official development assistance (ODA), which has long served as the cornerstone of Africa’s relationship with its development partners, has proven to be one-dimensional and too fragile a foundation for the continent’s ambitious vision. Furthermore, the strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, while long recognized as vital for the effectiveness of our mutual efforts, has also historically been plagued by fundamental challenges, including a lack of clarity and complementarity in our respective roles and the fragmentation in our interventions that hinder the desired outcomes.

Given this background, there is growing realization that Africa’s transformative agenda will require an equally transformative approach to its key global partnerships, particularly with the United Nations. In line with this, the United Nations and the African Union have been steadily working to strengthen their partnership and establish a higher level of cooperation characterized by mutual respect, solidarity, complementarity and interdependence.

In this context, in the past year, the United Nations and the African Union have signed comprehensive joint frameworks on peace and security, as well as on the coherent implementation of the 2030 and 2063 development agendas, with the overarching aim of strengthening our strategic partnership and enabling both organizations to deliver as one in support of Africa’s vision.

The Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) is committed to strengthening the coordination and collaboration between the United Nations and Africa. While this will certainly be a challenge given the many actors involved in the African landscape, the renewed focus on partnership galvanized by Agendas 2030 and 2063 has provided a powerful opportunity for the global community, including United Nations entities, to revisit the ways in which they partner with Africa, as well as with each other, towards achieving Africa’s vision.

I have always felt that my nine years of experience working with the African Union have been beneficial for my current post as Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa. I was fortunate to gain an understanding of its work and values, and hope to utilize that knowledge in the implementation of the OSAA mandate to deliver enhanced collaboration between the two organizations. As it is also clear that there are gaps in our partnership with the African Union, it will be OSAA’s role to help to identify those gaps, deficits and blind spots, as well as to develop innovative, impact-driven responses that add value to our efforts. In addition to its close collaboration with the African Union, OSAA is also working to forge closer partnerships with all stakeholders, including Member States, civil society, the private sector, academia and others.

One key concern for OSAA is how we can work more effectively with United Nations system entities to enhance the Organization’s partnership with the African Union, and ensure coherence and coordination in the system’s support for Africa in general.

To these ends, stronger internal coordination and increased focus on synergies are absolutely essential. At a time when multilateral institutions such as the United Nations are increasingly asked to do more with less, and when the most critical challenges facing Africa and the world are multisectoral in nature, it is imperative to strengthen coordination and coherence within the United Nations and collectively capitalize on our comparative advantages. In this context, key coordination bodies such as the Interdepartmental Task Force on African Affairs and the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa will be essential vehicles for joint programming, helping United Nations entities working globally and regionally to identify challenges, and plan and implement their interventions jointly rather than in silos.

All of this notwithstanding, as we consider coordination and planning, goals and targets, monitoring and evaluation, we must not lose sight of what remains at the heart of our work: people. Africa is more than just a mass of land and resources, and the success of our coordination in support of its aspirations must be measured in more than just increases in gross domestic product or incremental progress towards selected targets. The power of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 is based on the fact that they both were crafted with the express intention of keeping people at their centre and ensuring that everyone can live in dignity. At their heart lies not just economic growth, environmental protection or reduced conflict, but rather a fundamental commitment to social justice for all and to leaving no one behind. These are important promises that have been implicitly made to every African and, as such, should guide the work of the United Nations and its partners in support of the continent.

Caption: Bience Gawanas is Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa.

About The Author

Sanlam 2018 Annual Results

7 March 2019


Sanlam’s 2018 annual results provides testimony to its resilience amid challenging operating conditions and negative investment markets

Sanlam today announced its operational results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018. The Group made significant progress in strategic execution during 2018. This included the acquisition of the remaining 53% stake in SAHAM Finances, the largest transaction concluded in the Group’s 100-year history, and the approval by Sanlam shareholders of a package of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) transactions that will position the Group well for accelerated growth in its South African home market.

Operational results for 2018 included 14% growth in the value of new life insurance business (VNB) on a consistent economic basis and more than R2 billion in positive experience variances, testimony to Sanlam’s resilience in difficult times.

The Group relies on its federal operating model and diversified profile in dealing with the challenging operating environment, negative investment markets and volatile currencies. Management continues to focus on growing existing operations and extracting value from recent corporate transactions to drive enhanced future growth.

The negative investment market returns and higher interest rates in a number of markets where the Group operates had a negative impact on growth in operating earnings and some other key performance indicators. This was aggravated by weak economic growth in South Africa and Namibia and internal currency devaluations in Angola, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Substantial growth in Santam’s operating earnings (net result from financial services) and satisfactory growth by Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) and Sanlam Corporate offset softer contributions from Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) and Sanlam Investment Group (SIG).

Key features of the 2018 annual results include:

Net result from financial services increased by 4% compared to the same period in 2017;

Net value of new covered business up 8% to R2 billion (up 14% on a consistent economic basis);

Net fund inflows of R42 billion compared to R37 billion in 2017;

Adjusted Return on Group Equity Value per share of 19.4% exceeded the target of 13.0%; and

Dividend per share of 312 cents, up 8%.

Sanlam Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ian Kirk said: “We are satisfied with our performance in a challenging operating environment. We will continue to focus on managing operations prudently and diligently executing on our strategy to deliver sustainable value to all our stakeholders. The integration of SAHAM Finances is progressing well. In addition, Sanlam shareholders approved the package of B-BBEE transactions, including an equity raising, at the extraordinary general meeting held on 12 December 2018. Our plan to implement these transactions this year remains on track.”

Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) net result from financial services declined by 5%, largely due to the impact of new growth initiatives and dampened market conditions. Excluding the new initiatives, SPF’s contribution was 1% down on 2017 due to the major impact that the weak equity market performance in South Africa had on fund-based fee income.

SPF’s new business sales increased by 4%, an overall satisfactory result under challenging conditions. Sanlam Sky’s new business increased by an exceptional 71%. Strong growth of 13% in the traditional individual life channel was augmented by the Capitec Bank credit life new business recognised in the first half of 2018, and strong demand for the new Capitec Bank funeral product. The Recurring premium and Strategic Business Development business units also achieved strong growth of 20%, supported by the acquisition of BrightRock in 2017. Glacier new business grew marginally by 1%. Primary sales onto the Linked Investment Service Provider (LISP) platform improved by 5%, an acceptable result given the pressure on investor confidence in the mass affluent market. This was however, offset by lower sales of wrap funds and traditional life products.

The strong growth in new business volumes at Sanlam Sky had a major positive effect on SPF’s VNB growth, which increased by 7% (14% on a comparable basis).

Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) grew its net result from financial services by 14%. Excluding the impact of corporate activity, earnings were marginally up on 2017 (up 8% excluding the increased new business strain).

New business volumes at SEM increased by 20%. Namibia performed well, increasing new business volumes by 22% despite weak economic conditions. Both life and investment new business grew strongly. Botswana underperformed with the main detractor from new business growth being the investment line of business, which declined by 24%. This line of business is historically more volatile in nature.

The new business growth in the Rest of Africa portfolio was 68% largely due to corporate activity relating to SAHAM Finances, with the East Africa portfolio underperforming.

The Indian insurance businesses continued to perform well, achieving double-digit growth in both life and general insurance in local currency. The Malaysian businesses are finding some traction after a period of underperformance, increasing their overall new business contribution by 3%. New business production is not yet meeting expectations, but the mix of business improved at both businesses.

SEM’s VNB declined by 3% (up 6% on a consistent economic basis and excluding corporate activity). The relatively low growth on a comparable basis is largely attributable to the new business underperformance in East Africa.

Sanlam Investment Group’s (SIG) overall net result from financial services declined by 6%, attributable to lower performance fees at the third party asset manager in South Africa, administration costs incurred for system upgrades in the wealth management business and lower earnings from equity-backed financing transactions at Sanlam Specialised Finance. The other businesses did well to grow earnings, despite the pressure on funds under management due to lower investment markets.

New business volumes declined by 13% mainly due to market volatility and low investor confidence in South Africa. Institutional new inflows remained weak for the full year, while retail inflows also slowed down significantly after a more positive start to the year. The international businesses, UK, attracted strong new inflows (up 57%).

Sanlam Corporate’s net result from financial services increased by 4%, with the muted growth caused by a continuation of high group risk claims experience. Mortality and disability claims experience weakened further in the second half of the year, which is likely to require more rerating of premiums in 2019. The administration units turned profitable in 2018, a major achievement. The healthcare businesses reported satisfactory double-digit growth in earnings, while the Absa Consultants and Actuaries business made a pleasing contribution of R39 million.

New business volumes in life insurance more than doubled, reflecting an exceptional performance. Single premiums grew by 109%, while recurring premiums increased by a particularly satisfactory 56%.

The good growth in recurring and single premium business, combined with modelling improvements, supported a 64% (71% on a comparable economic basis) increase in the cluster’s VNB contribution.

Following a year of major catastrophe events in 2017, Santam experienced a relatively benign claims environment in 2018. Combined with acceptable growth in net earned premiums, it contributed to a 37% increase in gross result from financial services (41% after tax and non-controlling interest). The conventional insurance book achieved an underwriting margin of 9% in 2018 (6% in 2017).

As at 31 December 2018, discretionary capital amounted to a negative R3.7 billion before allowance for the planned B-BBEE share issuance. A number of capital management actions during 2018 affected the balance of available discretionary capital, including the US$1 billion (R13 billion) SAHAM Finances transaction. Cash proceeds from the B-BBEE share issuance will restore the discretionary capital portfolio to between R1 billion and R1.5 billion depending on the final issue price within the R74 to R86 price range approved by shareholders.

Looking forward, the Group said economic growth in South Africa would likely remain weak in the short to medium term future, and would continue to impact efforts to accelerate organic growth. The outlook for economic growth in other regions where the Group operates is more promising. Recent acquisitions such as the SAHAM transaction should also support operational performance going forward.

“We remain focused on executing our strategy. We are confident that we have the calibre of management and staff to prudently navigate the anticipated challenges going forward,” Mr Kirk concluded.

Details of the results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018 are available at