World book and copyright day 2019: Editor’s selection

Throughout human history, the book has been one of the most important and powerful means for the creation, preservation and dissemination of knowledge. It shapes the wealth of human experience and serves as a major determinant of human development and in extension, economic and global development.

World Book and Copyright Day is an annual international day championed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to promote the enjoyment of books and encourage everyone to discover the pleasure and benefits of reading. In commemoration of the day each year, celebrations take place all over the world on April 23, to recognise the scope of books.

In the past three weeks, our executive series have provided insights into various approaches to integrating responsible practices into business operations, and the potentials of African industries and businesses.

This edition features from our library and recommends distinct publications that provide a glimpse into the state of economic and environmental development in Africa and the world at large. It also reviews a corporate report, in alignment with the thrust of the April 2019 Executive Series.

Financial Sector Development in Africa: An Overview

Authors: Isaac Otchere, Witness Simbanegavi & Lemma W. Senbet

Year of Publication: 2017

This publication explicitly describes how the development of the financial sector is crucial for economic and inclusive development. The link between financial and economic development lies on the functions that financial services perform including liquidity provision; information production; price discovery; risk management and governance. All these functions when applied can have positive effects on economic development.

Between the 1980s and 1990s, in a bid to enhance the developmental potential of finance, African governments chose to liberalise their financial sectors as part of the structural adjustment programmes by the IMF and World Bank. According to the report, despite all measures taken to improve the performance of the financial sector for economic growth through these years, financial markets and economies of Africa have remained considerably less-developed than anywhere else in the world in all measures of financial development. Notwithstanding, the African financial sector has addressed the crisis remarkably well especially when compared to other developing regions.

The publication further sheds light on the project underwent by the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) with the theme: Financial Sector Reform and Development in Africa. The project covers issues such as financial regionalisation and globalisation, financial liberalisation and how it impacts growth, financial inclusion and finance for SMEs, financial sector innovations including mobile money, banking sector and stock markets development in sub-Saharan Africa. This project is analysed implicitly to uncover ways to financial sector development in Africa and subsequently, economic development on the continent.

Although a concise report, graphical representations will suffice in explaining and showing each country’s growth or the lack of it; comparing through the years. Moreover, the report does not address how the solutions highlighted could be implemented to solve the problems in the financial sector development.

Nevertheless, the publication provides knowledge on the growth of the financial sector across African regions.


Natural gas in Africa: The frontiers of the Golden Age

Publisher: Ernst & Young

Year of Publication: 2013

This publication describes EY’s contributions towards market trends, the mobility of global resources and its points of view on relevant key sector issues in the natural gas sector. It also projects a new positive outlook for the global future of natural gas, as a function of assumptions around natural gas use in Africa; greater use of natural gas in transportation; slower growth in global nuclear power and most critically, a more optimistic outlook for natural gas supply.

It describes Africa as a small but growing part of the global gas picture with a lot of potentials. The publication also identifies that natural gas development holds a tremendous opportunity for Africa, and can be a strong prime mover for broader economic and social development.

However, the report forecasts a growing role for natural gas in the world’s energy mix-with the natural gas share growing from 21% in 2010 to 25% in 2035 as the only fossil fuel whose share is growing.

According to the publisher, Africa’s Golden Age of Gas will be more than just headline opportunities for the NOCs, the deep-pocketed oil and gas majors, their big international E&P counterparts and the well-known African oil and gas specialists.

Concise, straight to the point and detailed, this publication is a comprehensive material for anyone looking to research on what the future holds for Africa in natural gas exploration.

Nevertheless, the report does not highlight the prospects of renewables complementing natural gas, as well as the effective economic and environmental benefits in delivering clean, secure and low-cost energy in Africa and the world at large.

Rethinking Energy 2017

Authors: Rabia Ferroukhi (IRENA); Janet Sawin, Freyr Sverisson (Suna Research)

Publisher: International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Year of Publication: 2017

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future. Rethinking Energy, its flagship report, examines trends and developments in the global quest for a sustainable energy future.

This edition of the report presents evidence and a compelling narrative of energy transformation and how renewable energy is produced and used in line with SDG7- “Access to affordable, renewable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

It details the status and outlook of renewable energy, the integration and distribution of a range of renewable energy into the power sector, recent trends in renewable energy investment, financial investment and business models, overview of renewable energy technologies, and renewable energy and the SDGs.

The authors highlight how renewables connect to the SDG aimed at environmental sustainability, by mitigating the local and global environmental impact of energy consumption, how they support human development by facilitating access to basic services, improving human health and supporting income generation activities.

Comprehensive, well-structured with pictorial representations/facts, and a good reference material for any renewable energy study; this work has confirmed that the future of energy is renewables and that the development of renewable energy should be accorded urgent attention.

Lafarge’s 2017 Sustainability Report- Creating Impact for Sustainable Growth

Publisher: Lafarge Africa

Year of Publication: 2018

This report draws attention to Lafarge Africa’s commitment to work in close collaboration with communities where they operate and the larger society. Using the GRI Standards, it shows the organisation’s material aspects and partnerships that have influenced socio-economic development in a responsible manner, and the creation of lasting values that impact its communities and stakeholders.

The publication, which covers Lafarge Africa’s four sustainability pillars of Climate, Circular Economy, Water and Nature, and People and Communities, shows efforts and initiatives that are benchmarked against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).

The sustainability actions highlighted in the report include actions on climate – controlling CO2 emissions, environmental compliance, carbon footprint reduction; circular economy – cement co-processing, utilising waste in cement production, resource management, alternative fuels; water and nature – biodiversity, water management, management waste; and lastly, people and communities – health and safety, training and development, gender equality, job creation, employee engagement, local content development, amongst others.

Apart from sharing progress on its four pillars, a showcase of some of its corporate social activities, together with awards and recognitions, positions the report for a dual purpose – a Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) report. The insertion of pictures on every page and a few infographic representations also provide visual details on activities, breaks the ice on the profusion of words and simplifies the report.

Moreover, a feature of testimonials from stakeholders, particularly, community stakeholders, makes the report more comprehensive whilst the assurance of an external party aligns with best practices.

The report, visually appealing and presented with the use of graphs and charts, portrays the organisation’s commitment to sustainable development and provides the lever to set new standards, foster socioeconomic development, and drive transformation. Nevertheless, numbering on the Content Page could have been improved upon for easier location of the different sections.


“Just imagine what you are losing just because you are not reading!”

― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah


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