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2 weeks ago

Africa CEO forum opens in Kigali

All roads lead to Kigali for the 2024 Africa CEO Forum, a high-level meeting for the African private sector, which seeks harness the continent’s ability to secure “a place at the table” and command respect in global dialogues.

The forum opens today, Thursday, May 15, at the Kigali Convention Centre.

Happening for the second time in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, the forum is expected to attract over 2,000 participants, including several Heads of State, leaders of major private African enterprises, investors, and financiers.

 

Hosted under the theme, At the table or on the menu? A critical moment to shape a new future for Africa, organizers say the meeting is an opportune moment to discuss what is needed to boost African development through the dynamics of growth offered by the continent’s private sector.

Over two days and more than 60 panel discussions, public-private workshops, and closed-door roundtables, the forum, organizers point out, will explore a new future for Africa, addressing critical topics such as leadership, digital future, integration, and finance.

Others include infrastructure, Africa’s sports business, tourism and hospitality, boosting the pharmaceutical capacity, and how technology can future-proof African youth.

Equally important, according to the forum’s agenda, is the international development strategy, access to capital, public-private sector dialogue, an in-depth explanation of the legal environment, as well as skills management.

After a quarter-century of favorable macroeconomic conditions for Africa, marked by easy money, commodity booms, and relative political stability, the landscape has shifted dramatically, experts say.

This can be attributed to the deepening of geopolitical lines, creating a multi-regional world, beset with climate change, artificial intelligence (AI), and sovereignty challenges, in which global forces are competing viciously over capital, critical resources, and future industries.

President Paul Kagame is expected to preside over the opening ceremony, joining President William Ruto of Kenya, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, Robert Beugré Mambé.

For context, the forum has, previously, pushed for a better understanding of African private-sector initiatives, enabling the exchange of ideas and different viewpoints, while creating the conditions for an ongoing dialogue with private business people.

“We call on our community of leaders shaping the future of Africa to recognize the structural and enduring consequences of the actions they take at this critical time. The forum will be a crucible for innovative strategies and partnerships, propelling the continent into the opportunities of tomorrow.” said Amir Ben Yahmed, President of the Africa CEO Forum.

He shared similar sentiments with Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s Vice President for Africa, who reiterated that; “Turning Africa’s $3 trillion GDP into $30 trillion by 2050 will require an unbridled African private sector, enabled by the continent’s policymakers to forge partnerships that create markets, increase intra-African trade and advance investment on the continent.”

Rwandan business leaders have also expressed optimism about the investments and partnerships that could be forged from the forum.

“Business is about networking and among the outcomes from previous editions is the growth of investments in the country, more market for access to capital, and collaboration of consultancy companies, among others,” said Stephen Ruzibiza, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) chief executive.

What is at stake?

The 2024 Africa CEO forum comes at a time when major disruptions like the growing inequality, the advent of climate risk, technological revolutions, and resurgent protectionism are turning the global private sector upside down.

According to the forum’s organizers, the leaders of Africa’s economy and largest companies have been slow to participate in the topical discussion surrounding “capitalism and the common good”.

But there is another side to the story of African business, on the continent, more than anywhere, the private sector demonstrates that “doing business” and “doing good” can be the same.

For instance, telecom providers are promoting financial inclusion, investors are developing distributed solar energy facilities, and agribusiness is prioritizing on-site supply and processing, making such examples of “business for good” gradually becoming commonplace in Africa.

The event is co-hosted by Jeune Afrique Media Group and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).