Building Trust After the African Polycrisis

Columbia University’s Adam Tooze joins the debate on confidence and growth in Africa, launching the public discussion programme of the recently established Standard Bank Chair in African Trust Infrastructures at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Standard Bank’s corporate commitment to Africa’s growth recognises the role of education and research in the development of the African continent, its societies, businesses and people. The establishment and maintenance of African trust infrastructure is critical for building confidence in African economies and societies, promoting innovation and investment, and creating a secure and prosperous future for the continent.

The Standard Bank Chair in African Trust Infrastructures represents a six-year partnership between Standard Bank and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), aimed at building a programme of scholarly research and public debate. The purpose of the Chair, located in the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser), is to examine the digital infrastructures that states and firms are building to address overlapping crises on our continent. A particular focus of the Chair is the role of the financial sector and leading-edge identification technologies in building trust infrastructures amongst Africa’s people, businesses and states.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with one of our continent’s leading universities to better understand – and support the development of – the digital and human capacities required to build a deeper and wider trust infrastructure. Africa needs this infrastructure to sustain and accelerate growth. Supporting faster, more inclusive and more sustainable growth is fundamental to our purpose as a business,” says Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala.

The first events in the public discussion programme of the recently established interdisciplinary Chair on African Trust Infrastructures take place from 14 to 16 March 2023.

The importance of trust
Studies have shown that trust is the intangible foundation on which growth and prosperity rest. The development of African trust infrastructures is essential for promoting intra-African trade, regional integration and the continent’s overall economic growth. Trust requires cooperation and collaboration between governments, the private sector, civil society and international partners to ensure that these infrastructures are robust, reliable and accessible to all.

Standard Bank Chair in African Trust Infrastructures’ inaugural public discussion programme
To announce the beginning of this long-term project, and to assess some of the larger geopolitical problems it will confront, Professor Tooze will deliver a lecture in the Senate Room of Wits University on 14 March 2023 titled: Facing the climate crisis in a world of inequality: Who should pay? Who will pay?

The lecture, hosted by Professor Imraan Valodia, Wits’ Pro-Vice-Chancellor: Climate, Sustainability and Inequality, will be followed on 15 March 2023 by a Trust Infrastructure Summit hosted by Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi (FRS) and Standard Bank. The Summit will feature a panel discussion, including:

  • Professor Adam Tooze (Columbia University)
  • Professor Achille Mbembe (Wits University)
  • Sim Tshabalala (CEO: Standard Bank Group)
  • Bill Blackie (CEO: Business and Commercial Banking, Standard Bank Group)
  • Patrick Mweheire (Regional CEO, Standard Bank Group)

The session will be facilitated by Professor Hlonipha Mokoena of Wiser.

Professor Tooze’s three-day programme marking the inauguration of the Standard Bank Chair in African Trust Infrastructures’ public discussion programme, concludes on 16 March 2023 with a discussion with the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Lesetja Kganyago. Also held at Wits, this discussion will be followed by a bespoke engagement hosted by Standard Bank for Wits delegates and other key constituents of the Chair.

“As a leading research institution in Africa, we are always looking at the questions that will serve the greater good of our country, our community and our continent. It is through the creation of new knowledge, ideas and partnerships across sectors that we can work together to solve the pressing challenges of the 21st Century, for good,” says Professor Vilakazi.

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