After three days of intensive and productive discussion, the Africa CEO Forum 2014 closed at midday on Wednesday, March 19 in Geneva. Organized by Groupe Jeune Afrique, in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Rainbow Unlimited, this was second meeting of African private sector leaders. Over 700 employers, banks, investors, ministers and journalists took part in discussing the big economic questions in Africa.
From the competitiveness of African businesses to the digital revolution, taking into consideration the specific questions of processing the continent’s natural resources, and facilitating financial integration in Africa, the forum addressed numerous issues.
Three lessons can be drawn from the Africa CEO Forum 2014:
- Ongoing mobilization of the private sector, a sign of the vitality of African entrepreneurs and the success of the event;
- Removal of divisions between francophone and anglophone Africa; this second meeting attracted a large number of CEOs from Nigeria, Tanzania and also South Africa;
- Finally, the very useful discussions; the forum made it possible to consider somewhat detailed questions such as the state of the African economy in comparison to Asia.
The Africa CEO Forum Awards
The Africa CEO Forum also gave the organizers a chance to honour the companies and investors whose strategies are proof of their determination to be part of the African growth dynamic. The aim of this initiative was to encourage the creation of competitive African enterprises. In addition to commitment and outcomes, four key areas were taken into account: promoting the African private sector, strengthening regional integration, developing intra-African exchanges, and social and environmental responsibility.
There were two particular high points during prize-giving:
- Asky Airlines was chosen as best African enterprise of the year. The company was founded by Gervais Koffi Djondo from Togo, a former director of Ecobank.
- Daphne Mashile-Nkosi from South Africa, the first African woman to head a mining company, was named African CEO of the year.
Next CEO Forum to be held in Africa
During the forum closing ceremony, warm thanks were given to this year’s participating private sector companies by both Amir Ben Yahmed, Director General of Groupe Jeune Afrique and Chairman of the Africa CEO Forum, and Mouhamadou Niang, Acting Director of the AfDB’s Private Sector Department. The companies were told to save the date for the third meeting, in Africa!
“It was important to hold the first two meetings outside of Africa, to make African capitalism visible to investors around the world. It was also necessary to find a meeting place that could mobilize anglophone and francophone Africa, along with the international mass media. Now that we have a brand, a reputation, we will organize the third meeting in Africa,” said Ben Yahmed.
Speaking on behalf of AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, Mouhamadou Niang stressed that “there was a positive atmosphere and spirit during the discussions, which were serious, useful and of very high quality. What we will take away from this meeting is that African business must have faith in its enormous abilities while remaining realistic about the constraints it has to face.”
Niang explained that the AfDB strategy regarding the private sector will put special emphasis on several elements, including support for States, and particularly their investment-promoting agencies, in order to make them effective partners for private enterprise, especially within the PPP framework. Another priority will be processing natural resources, with attention all along the value chain, SMEs included. In addition, the AfDB will support professional training in order to improve the correlation between supply and demand for productive skills, along with education in general.
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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