Towards a three zero economy in Europe and Africa: zero exclusion, zero carbon, zero poverty



Laurent Goutard at the Forum Europe Afrique

Illustration picture: Laurent Goutard and the Forum's header

On Thursday 17 March was held the Forum Europe Afrique in Marseille, under the aegis of the French Presidency of the European Union.  Laurent Goutard, Head of International Retail Banking for Africa, the Mediterranean Basin & Overseas, participated in this forum whose theme was European and African Metropolises and their role in the global recovery.

He discussed with Nicolas Kazadi, Minister of Finance of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Stéphane Richard, President and CEO of Orange, Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, and Amina Zakhnouf, Co-Founder of Je m'engage pour l'Afrique, at a round table entitled "Towards a three zero economy on the European and African continents: zero exclusion, zero carbon, zero poverty"

Laurent Goutard shared his vision of the challenges facing Africa in these three areas and discussed how Societe Generale understands this triple requirement. 

Zero Exclusion: Energy and infrastructure inclusion 

The African continent faces two fundamental energy challenges: achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services by 2030, and harnessing the power of renewable energy available on the continent. The Group supports energy inclusion by promoting renewable sources of production in areas not connected to electricity grids or by supporting the connection of households installed near already established grids. We recently financed (€16 million) Madagascar’s largest solar power plant for GreenYellow, Axian, with GuarantCo and the African Guarantee Fund. 

In terms of infrastructure inclusion, Africa has huge needs for transport (roads, bridges, airports...) to open up the regions. We rely on our subsidiaries, the Group’s experts and our structured finance platforms to offer solutions that help reduce foreign exchange risk and offer advantageous repayment deferrals that may relieve our clients' cash flow. We ensure that the projects we fund incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. The Group helped finance the renovation of the “Eastern Road” (the main east-west transport corridor in West Africa to date) and the construction of four bridges in Côte d'Ivoire.ainsi que la construction de quatre ponts in the Ivory Coast.

Zero carbon: Supporting the decarbonization of our clients' activities and our own 

Societe Generale has a leading role to play in the positive transformations of the world and in the sustainable development of economies. We want to contribute to a proactive and responsible transition by supporting our customers and the real economy towards carbon neutrality.
A founding member of the UNEP-FI Net-Zero Banking Alliance, the Group is committed to aligning its portfolios with global carbon neutrality trajectories by 2050 with the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1,5°C. As such, Societe Generale aligns its credit and investment portfolios with intermediate objectives, starting with the carbon-intensive sectors. 

In addition, the Group has committed to reducing its own carbon emissions by 50% between 2019 and 2030, by acting on the energy required for its buildings, IT, air travel and vehicle fleet. 

Zero poverty: Supporting Education and SMEs to promote employment

Promotion of education is a major issue, a true social elevator on the continent, and the Group is working on it in all its entities worldwide.

Societe Generale also supports employment-creating SMEs in Africa, with the ambition of doubling whenever possible the annual production of credits between 2020 and 2025 (€800 million), particularly to support the energy transition.
We also rely on the network of SME Houses that we have created (8 are in operation in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Benin, Guinea and Madagascar) to offer multidimensional support: specialized bankers advisory and networking with partners to support the creation and development of SMEs. In these locations, SMEs can benefit from accounting, technical and legal expertise: advice, training, monitoring and, of course, financing solutions at all stages of the company’s life cycle. 

Societe Generale’s presence in Africa, its proximity to the actors of tomorrow, is both historic and strategic. The Bank’s role in addressing the continent’s significant challenges is key to supporting its sustainable development.

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