|Wikileaks:||View 02ABUJA3297 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||TBIO SOCI ECON NI|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 003297 SIPDIS DEPT FOR AF, AF/W, AF/EPS, AF/RSA, AND OES/EID NANCY CARTER-FOSTER DEPT PASS TO USAID FOR AFR/AA, AFR/BAA, AFR/WA, MICHAEL KARBELING, GH/HIV-AIDS, ALAN GETSON LAGOS FOR ECON AND FCS E.O. 12958; N/A TAGS: TBIO, SOCI, ECON, NI SUBJECT: NIGERIA: ENGAGING THE AMERICAN PRIVATE SECTOR ON HIV/AIDS REF: ABUJA 2651 1. SUMMARY: On October 21, Ambassador Jeter, assisted by USAID Mission Director Liberi, National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) Chairperson Osotimehin, Lagos Consul General, Mission Officers, and Percy Wilson, an AFR/SD HIV/AIDS Consultant, hosted a highly successful luncheon for 20 prominent, largely American, business leaders in Lagos to discuss the role of the private sector in combating HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The event resulted in the formation of a critical new public/private alliance for the Nigerian HIV/AIDS effort. The business leaders agreed to form a committee in support of NACA that will meet quarterly to explore ways to use the private sector's core competences to strengthen the Nigerian program and to review progress. The NACA Chairperson also suggested the formation of a working group that will convene during the intervals between committee meetings to facilitate communication and strengthen collaboration between his office and the committee. In addition, Osotimehin indicated that he will invite several business leaders to serve on NACA's governing board. The group concluded the luncheon by generating a list of opportunities for public/private sector collaboration. Subsequent response to this initiative has been uniformly positive and has included both public and private sector proposals to promote the new partnership. The Ambassador has agreed to host an HIV/AIDS public partnership luncheon on a quarterly basis. END SUMMARY. 2. AMBASSADOR'S REMARKS: Ambassador Jeter thanked the business representatives for honoring his invitation, and then focused his remarks on the status of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. He highlighted the urgency of the situation by quoting the recent National Intelligence Council report that Nigeria, along with India, China, Russia and Ethiopia, is predicted to become a crisis point for HIV/AIDS in the next ten years unless urgent and effective measures are taken. Emphasizing the impact that an uncontrolled pandemic could have on business plans, operations, and profits, the Ambassador appealed to the business leaders to lend their support to the efforts of the public sector and NACA to address this emerging catastrophe in Nigeria. Jeter noted that Nigeria already has the most HIV-infected adults and AIDS orphans in West Africa, and stressed the U.S. commitment to support the Government of Nigeria in its efforts to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS. This was expressed through the USG's dramatic increase in funding since 1999, and an inter-agency, multi- tiered effort through USAID, DoD, CDC, USDoL and NGO's, foundations, and universities to address the problem. The Ambassador conclude by emphasizing that it was in the business community's own interest to joint the HIV/AIDS fight in Nigeria, which would greatly benefit from the organizational, managerial, and communications skills of the business community. 3. USAID MISSION DIRECTOR'S REMARKS: USAID Mission Director Dawn Liberi said that although there is some disagreement about the extent of the pandemic and the exact number of HIV infected persons, there is no disagreement that the AIDS pandemic in Nigeria has attained proportions that demand urgent and effective intervention. She described USAID's program in support of the Government of Nigeria's HIV/AIDS efforts, and noted that the USG is the single largest donor to the Nigerian HIV/AIDS efforts. Ms. Liberi said that the USG's contribution has increased from $2.8 million in 1999 to $14.5 million in 2002 and that contribution will increase even further to $20.5 million in 2003. After citing several existing USAID programs, Ms. Liberi underlined that USAID is seeking new opportunities to expand collaboration with the business sector, stating that USAID recognizes the vibrancy and vitality of the private sector and the potential role it can play in this effort. She also ended her remarks by inviting the business community to join NACA and USAID in the Nigerian war against HIV/AIDS. 4. NACA CHAIRMAN'S REMARKS: Professor Osotimehin briefed the group on the work currently being carried out by NACA, in particular the Presidential Action Committee's awareness campaign. He said that HIV/AIDS is a priority for President Obasanjo and that the President is giving his full support to NACA's work. He assured the business community that NACA operates with total transparency. Professor Osotimehin stressed NACA's understanding of the critical importance of building its capacity to be able to provide leadership to the nation in the fight against AIDS. In this regard, the NACA Chairperson reported that NACA recently signed a MOU with Coca-Cola Company. He said that Coca- Cola will use its advertising and distribution infrastructure to support NACA's national program. Osotimehin stated that getting the message out to the public is very important to create an enabling environment to contain and reduce the country's prevalence rate. Professor Osotimehin closed by inviting other companies to forge a partnership with NACA. 5. AFR/SD CONSULTANT'S REMARKS: Percy Wilson, a retired Coca-Cola director with many years of experience in Nigeria, and contracted by AFR/SD to spearhead the public/private HIV/AIDS effort, underscored the importance of partnership. He shared his belief that the private sector's core competences in communication, marketing, operations and distribution can be of significant value to the public sector in program development and implementation. Wilson stressed that to achieve positive results it is critical that the Nigerian AIDS campaign be built on a foundation of total value chain management. Private sector/public sector human and fiscal resource leveraging must be the centerpiece of the management plan. He further emphasized that combating HIV/AIDS is a community problem and therefore a total community effort is required to combat the disease. Mr. Wilson described two models for private sector/public sector partnerships: 1) The Merck Foundation/Merck & Co., Inc., the Government of Botswana, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 2) the recent partnership between the Coca-Cola Company, the Government of Nigeria (NACA) and UNICEF. He appealed to the group to join forces to develop a well thought out strategic plan. 6. CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE BUSINESS LEADERS: The Coca-Cola Company and Chevron underscored the need to work in partnership with the public sector because it is the correct thing to do as well as being in the best interest of business. Other members of the business community echoed this sentiment. CONOCO expressed the importance of being socially correct and making sure the business community respects local culture and customs. Professor Osotimehin assured the group that NACA recognizes this as important and that the organization is in dialogue with national and local community and faith leaders in that regard. In summary, the business community expressed willingness to use their core compenences to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. 7. MEETING RESOLUTIONS: Ambassador Jeter's subsequent offer to facilitate a quarterly meeting resulted in a resolution by the business representatives to form an important new public sector/private sector alliance. Professor Osotimehin expressed interest in establishing a working group for the committee that will meet in the interval between quarterly meetings to promote the committee's agenda and strengthen collaboration between NACA and the business community. He also indicated that he would invite several members of the business community to serve on NACA's governing committee. 8. PUBLIC/PRIVATE SECTOR ALLIANCE OPPORTUNITIES: Members of the group identified the following opportunities for the new partnership: i. Information gathering (e.g., NACA will provide the committee with the soon-to-be released NACA institutional strengthening assessment) and data sharing (e.g., one oil company will seek ways to share with NACA its data on the percentage of its employees and their dependents who are HIV positive). ii. Use of the new wireless Internet technology that will soon be introduced in Nigeria to transmit awareness and prevention messages to rural areas and to assist in data collection for the new management information system. iii. Mapping private sector locations and programs to encourage further collaboration with public sector programs. iv. Applying private sector core competences to launch a national awareness campaign. v. Using private sector merchandise packaging to transmit AIDS' prevention and awareness messages. 9. SUBSEQUENT RESPONSES: Subsequent responses to this initiative have been rapid and uniformly positive. Dates have been set for the next two follow-on luncheons, for instance, and Professor Osotimehin has hired an assistant who will assume responsibility for liaison with the business committee and for prompt responses to all committee requests. One company represented at the luncheon has already contacted a USAID implementing partner for assistance with developing appropriate HIV/AIDS prevention messages for its packaging. Other participants have subsequently stated their appreciation for the opportunities discussed at the luncheon and have reaffirmed their commitment to involve their companies in the national AIDS effort. 10. COMMENT: As previously reported (reftel), the Mission has been at the forefront in providing support to the dynamic new NACA leadership. The luncheon hosted by Ambassador Jeter marked a critical new departure in this support and was responsive to the NACA Chairman's request emanating from Percy Wilson's previous consultancy for USG assistance in engaging the private sector. With the exception of the recent Coca-Cola initiative, the business sector has been conspicuously absent in the Nigerian HIV/AIDS effort. This is no longer the case. 11. COMMENT (cont): The new public/private sector partnership that resulted from the Ambassador's luncheon is critical to NACA's effort to create a multi-sectoral response. Furthermore, the creation of the public/private alliance will facilitate implementation of USAID's proposed new five-year strategy. Many of the employees of companies attending the luncheon (e.g., oil-rig and oil-service workers, transport workers, construction workers) serve as critical "bridging" agents for the spread of HIV to the general population. The targeting of high-risk and "bridging" groups will be a critical element of the new USAID five-year strategy and the creation of this partnership will greatly facilitate access to these groups. JETER
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