Africa CEO Forum 2014: President Donald Kaberuka reiterates his belief in Africa’s emergence

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The Africa CEO Forum 2014, one of the most important gatherings of African business leaders officially opened in Geneva on Monday, March 17. The three-day event closes on Wednesday.

Organized by the publishing house Groupe Jeune Afrique in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the second Africa CEO Forum boasted “680 participants, speakers and journalists from more than 38 countries.”

This level of participation is already a measure of the success of this year’s Africa CEO Forum, whose mission is to bring together economic actors from French- and English-speaking Africa to strengthen regional ties, and promote public-private sector dialogue with the goal of building an environment conducive to new business development. The goal of the Forum is to further stimulate African entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity on the continent.

The opening ceremony, chaired by Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, and Amir Ben Yahmed, Managing Director of Groupe Jeune Afrique and Chair of the Africa CEO Forum, recalled the primary purpose of this major event.

“When there is discussion around the African economy, there are so many different views. I am sure you will hear all these versions. The reality is that they all reflect a certain reality,” President Kaberuka said. “One thing is certain, though, and on this there is a broad consensus: People agree on the imperative of Africa moving up the regional and global value chains... We are here to figure out how to take Africa to the next stage. From ‘hopeless’, to ‘rising’, to ‘hopeful’ ... The African Development Bank is proud to be your partner in this journey. Together we will take Africa to the next level.”

Amir Ben Yahmed said, “The year 2013 was marked by a 16% increase in foreign direct investment. The IMF is forecasting global growth of 6.5% for 2014. I have lost count of the number of African CEOs who are now part of the international rankings in the financial press. However, we cannot ignore the fact that most of the emerging countries, which only a few months ago were considered the engines of the world economy, are today transforming into weak links. So, with this in mind, we thought we should use this occasion of the second edition of the Africa CEO Forum to take a step back and reflect on ways to accelerate the transformation of our continent.

A first day of rich and substantive discussions

The first day of the Africa CEO Forum, which featured one plenary session and two knowledge sessions devoted to key topics such as the competitiveness of African companies and the issue of local transformation of the continent’s natural resources, was enriched by the contributions of several high-profile speakers from Africa and the rest of the world.

“We have a current competitiveness and it will persist only if Africa continues to wake up,” said Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy.

“This issue of competitiveness is critical if we want to continue and attract foreign investments, to develop human capital, promote employment and continue to develop the middle class and the local markets that these CEOs represent,” added Amir Ben Yahmed.

“Our States must define their industrial strategies,” said Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Thanks to its rich and substantive program, composed of high-level sessions and one-to-one business meetings, the Africa CEO Forum 2014 has become the place to be for all those driving the continent’s growth.

About the Africa CEO Forum:

Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the Africa CEO Forum is organized by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and by Rainbow Unlimited, a company specializing in the organization of business events and manager of the Swiss-African Business Circle (SABC).

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