Friends of the Global Fund Africa, which is also known as Friends Africa, was started in May 2006 by Dr Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba to lobby African governments, the private sector and civil society to raise money for the Global Fund.
“[The year] 2012 was a very fulfilling [one] for us here at Friends Africa,” Executive Director Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba said in a 2013 New Year message. “With the support of our partners, we made great strides and broke new grounds in fighting AIDS, TB and Malaria on the African continent.”
Ms Ikemba said that Friends Africa has become a force in its four areas of operation – advocacy, capacity building, documentation and technical assistance.
One of the projects of Friends Africa is the “Gift from Africa” campaign, which was started in June 2010. The aim of the campaign is to encourage African businesses to contribute money to the Global Fund. According to the Friends Africa website, the Gift from Africa campaign has raised $5 million for the Global Fund.
“Friends Africa vastly scaled up its efforts to fight the AIDS pandemic in Africa with a historic novelty football match commemorating World AIDS Day 2012,” Ms Ikemba said. “We had a stadium filled with over 2000 guests who came to watch Nigeria’s former Super Eagles play against Nigeria’s Nollywood to sensitise people to the issue of discrimination against people living with HIV.”
In 2012, Friends Africa trained over of 2,700 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Africa as part of efforts to enlighten African businesses and employees about workplace policies on AIDS, TB and malaria. These SMEs have now implemented such policies for their employees, according to Ms Ikemba.
Ms Ikemba said that as a result of two successful high level panels and a side event at the African Union, Friends Africa was able to lobby African leaders to support the Global Fund.
“Our advocacy efforts continue to support the programmes of the Global Fund which has saved the lives of over three million Africans living with these diseases,” Ms Ikemba said. She added that Friends Africa showcased the potential of the African private sector in the fight against the diseases using the Gift from Africa model during presentations at two conferences at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut (US) and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Using evidence gathered from various countries in Africa, Ms Ikemba explained, Friends Africa published “What the Global Fund Means to Africans” (fourth edition) and the second edition of another publication, “Innovative Practices.” This was part of Friends Africa’s mission to document successes and challenges in the fight against the diseases.
Friends Africa’s board of directors is composed of: Yakubu Gowon (Nigeria), Jeannnette Kagame (Rwanda), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), Youssou N’dour (Senegal), Jonathan Oppenheimer (South Africa), Jeffrey D. Sachs (US), Ken Ofori-Atta (Ghana), Chris Kirubi (Kenya), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede (Nigeria),Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba (Nigeria) and Sheila Tlou.
Friends Africa has partnered with various organisations, including Access Bank, a Nigerian bank with subsidiaries in the region and across the continent. The bank has committed $1 million to the “Gift from Africa” campaign since the partnership started in 2008. The bank provided money to Friends Africa which was used to host the “Grassroots Capacity Building Workshop” in Accra, Ghana in 2008. The bank also sponsored the Friends Africa SME workplace policies development workshops held in three Nigerian cities – Lagos, Enugu and Minna – in 2010.
Other organisations that Friends Africa has partnered with include Population Action International, KPMG Professional Services, Zambia Federation of Employers, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, SO&U Saatchi & Saatchi (Nigeria), and the United Nations Foundation.
Friends Africa participated at the International Aids Conference in Washington, USA in July 2012. The organisation hosted two sessions at the conference: “What the Global Fund Means to Africans – Africa’s Need of a Fully Funded Global Fund;” and “Gift from Africa – Investing Africa’s Wealth for Africa’s Health.”
In February 2013, Friends Africa organised the first Lagos Social Media Week, a conference to discuss the latest trends in using social media to power NGOs and social entrepreneurship.