BusinessThe Africa CEO ForumThe Africa CEO Forum talks economic transformation


The Africa CEO Forum talks economic transformation

By The Africa Report

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African leaders lobby for economic investment at the 2018 Africa CEO Forum


More than 1,600 high-level delegates from over 60 countries, including over 800 CEOs, captains of industry and government officials listened to Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa, who recently emerged as president of Zimbabwe, repeat those words in his opening speech at the 6th edition of the Africa CEO Forum from 26-27 March in Abidjan.

“We are determined to create an open, free and transparent economy”, he began. “My administration’s top priority is the resuscitation and revival of the economy and reengagement with the international community for the cumulative positive impact on the quality and standard of living of the generality of the people in our country. We have the resolve and political will to institute clear, coherent and sound business policies which will allow for a vibrant private sector which can thrive and meaningfully contribute to our national aspirations and development agenda”.

It was a strategy that would be mirrored later by Seriake Dickson, governor of oil-rich Bayelsa state in Nigeria as he spoke on a panel about sustaining the country’s economic growth alongside Tonye Cole, co-founder of oil conglomerate, Sahara Group and Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC). “Investing in Nigeria is good but investing in Bayelsa is better,” Dickson crooned.

We have the resolve and political will to institute clear, coherent and sound business policies which will allow for a vibrant private sector

Mnangagawa was one of four presidents alongside host president Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo and former Nigerian head of state Olusegun Obasanjo to attend the Forum, the largest annual meeting of the African private sector.

His plea for foreign investment into Zimbabwe, a country alienated from the comity of nations for years due to various sanctions during the time of his predecessor Robert Mugabe, came just as Morocco was named top investment destination on the continent.

In the 2018 Africa Investment Index (AII) released on the sidelines of the Forum by Quantum Global Research Lab, the research arm of a private investment group, the North African nation rises up one place up from last year. The index, which measures the five parameters of growth; liquidity, risk, business environment, demography and social capital sees Zimbabwe at the bottom of the rung.

The contrasting fortunes of both countries and the need to encourage collaboration of all other countries sandwiched between, in technology, business, infrastructure ahead of the planned continental free trade zone, dominated several sessions at the forum.

It was in this vein that the 'Déclaration d'Abidjan', an agreement for a common policy on cocoa trade between the Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana was signed on the sidelines of the Forum, by both Ouattara and Akufo-Addo. Both countries cumulatively provide 60% of the global supply.

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The International Finance Corporation also released ‘Shaping the Future of Africa: Markets and Opportunities for Private Investors’ report at the Forum, highlighting growth in Africa from 1.3 % in 2016 to an estimated 2.4% in 2017, and a projected 3.6 % by 2020.

Reacting to the report, Amir Ben Yahmed, founder and president of the Forum said the report demonstrated the abundance of business opportunities in Africa, a tie-in with the Forum's overarching purpose to help investors and other stakeholders utilise these opportunities for even further growth.

One of the main highlights of the two-day event was the highly anticipated Africa CEO Forum Awards ceremony, which turned the spotlight on African startups this year.

The prestigious CEO of the Year and Young CEO of the Year awards went to Nadia Fettah, Managing Director of Morocco's Saham Finances and Amy Jadesimi, CEO of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), respectively. Kenya-based startup Twiga Foods, bagged the ‘Most Promising Company of the Year’ award, a new category introduced this year.


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