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Why the private sector needs to push for peace

OPINION
By Chris Diaz | Mar 29th 2022 | 5 min read
By Chris Diaz | March 29th 2022
OPINION

This is bad for business. [Reuters]

2022 is some sort of a launchpad year to the recovery path after the biting Covid-19 pandemic that literally crippled the world economy. 

We can’t say economies around the world are stable yet but there have been great steps towards achieving desired economic stability or at least something close to it globally.  

The war in Europe has greatly affected global pricing, food security and economies are struggling very hard globally.

At the frontline of pushing for peace globally are the private sector and investors for obvious reasons – the two form the core of the global economy.
In case there is no peace, the two suffer heavy damage which affects the investments that drive entrepreneurship and much-needed employment benefits, especially for the youth.

In line with this subject, the private sector is a group of diverse constituents that may alternately contribute to or depart from the peace-0building process. It is also the largest player in driving GDPs across nations.

Be it intrastate or interstate conflict, violence does have scars on business, leaving a legacy of a weakened economy, many driven from their homes, billions of dollars destroyed in resources and wasted economic opportunities.
This is what’s happening in Ukraine now.
The effects are not just on the warring parties but far and wide globally.  I

By working with governments and major bodies, the private sector has a huge role in promoting or pushing for peace to enable a favourable environment that can make the economy blossom. 

Previous examples like in Nepal have demonstrated that the private sector has a strong institutional foundation.  Its business associations, democratically-elected committees, and trained task forces could work on specific issues and find solutions benefiting local and global communities.

In El Salvador, history illustrates how Alfredo Cristiani turned things for the better after it was realised that a market-oriented economic model could develop only if the armed conflict ended. 

He promoted peace and integrated El Salvador into the global economy, leading the pro-business Alianza Republicana Nacional (ARENA) party to electoral victory in the 1989 presidential elections. The peace accord he signed in 1992 ended the 12-year civil war.

Another example is Somalia, despite challenges and stagnation in economic growth, the country represents a rare example of private-sector resilience. The major sectors of the economy survived the tumultuous period after the collapse of the state in 1991. 

Entrepreneurs in Somalia and abroad continue to innovate and adapt in a country void of regulatory frameworks or government oversight. 

The Somali government used the occasion to underscore the priorities within its three-year National Development Plan, recognising that the private sector’s significant strides can go further with stronger government support.

Need to speak in unison

Without any inclination or partiality, the private sector and investors need to push for peace as a unit because when economies go down or global business is affected, no one will be spared and the ripple effects will be felt by all and affect all industries.

Currently, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a big blow to global trade.

Major global trade players are directly affected. The economic sanctions are not only affecting Russia but the whole world as a business is a global solution,  with many parties interconnected directly and indirectly. 

This is a conflict that is coming at a time when the world badly needed peace to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In itself, this Russia-Ukraine conflict is a ‘pandemic’ that needs to be urgently addressed – and the global business players have a role to play in ending it.

The focus shouldn’t be on the Russia-Ukraine conflict alone. With the same energy and interest, the private sector and investors should push for peace in Ethiopia – a country that is experiencing the worst side of the conflict in Africa at the moment.

With the escalating conflict in the Tigray region, an estimated five million people are in crisis. Over two million have been displaced and over 300,000 are at risk of severe hunger. 

This is a situation that calls for action and the private sector and investors in Africa can advocate a solution rather than fence-sitting as they watch. 

In Sudan, at least 440 civilians have died in brutal fighting between rival factions in southwestern South Sudan.

It’s a situation that is escalating with widespread bad incidents that must be addressed.  Recently, the United States imposed sanctions on Sudan police over rights abuse but the private sector and investors can push for more amicable solutions to restore peace. 

As we watch conflicts around the world and hope for peace, it must be noted that in Kenya, we are in a very delicate year that the private sector and investors and international communities must be actively involved in to see peace throughout the year. 

We have entered the electioneering period with the polls set for August and the environment is already charged. 

We have been here before and a number of times the country has gone up in smoke with violence all over thus working down the economic gains made. 

As major players in the economic growth of the country, the private sector and investors should be at the forefront, to advocate for peace before, during and after elections. 

The government is doing its best to have a peaceful election but support from the private sector will go a long way because sliding back into chaotic scenes will only ruin the economy. 

It’s good KEPSA had already partnered with the government in calling for peace with CEO Carole Kariuki and Vimal Shah, Chairman of Kenya Daima Peace Initiative, saying:  “We are calling for peaceful elections as chaos will affect all the sectors including business, hence the need to engage the politicians.” 

I call on the private sector and investors and our international partners to actively get involved and call for peace through and through, for a better business environment.

The private sector works in partnership with the public sector and will support peaceful elections and encourage all our teams to vote peacefully and continue to invest and increase employment and entrepreneurship.

Chris Diaz - Business leader and Director East African Business Council

 

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