Cablegate: Nigeria: Engaging the American Private

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958; N/A


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.


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