Held under the theme, Open Africa: from continental treaties to business realities, the international forum, saw the participation of some African presidents including Presidents Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopian Sahle-Work Zewde and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara was represented by Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. About 1800 partakers, comprising 28 ministers, CEOs, investors and heads of giant financial institutions from about 70 countries were part of the business gathering, the first to hold in East Africa.
What is the Africa CEO Forum all about?
As the name sounds, the Africa Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) Forum is a business platform or an international meeting that brings together company owners, policymakers, economic experts, bankers, and government officials among other important stakeholders to vitalize the private sector in Africa and as such bring the continent’s top under one platform. Jean Afrique Media Group, the Africa Report, and the Swiss society are the brains behind the most hailed international business forum.
The main objective of the economic forum is to reveal Africa’s economic potential by advocating private sector-led growth, leading discussions around innovative public policies and sustainable business. It enables participants to discuss the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Africa. It also aims to promote networking among business tycoons.
Areas of interest
Like the routine, the Africa CEO 2019, discussed many issues among them breaking barriers impeding intra-Africa trade, promoting regional and economic integration. The must talk continental Free Trade Area also took a bulk of the discourse; attaining a single market. President Paul Kagame while addressing the panel said: ‘’the continental free trade area CFTA is in the course of coming into force I understand that only one more ratification is needed, however, as we all know, this is where the hard work begins…..it is very timely for us to gather here today to discuss how to make the most of this historic agreement among other important issues. We only reached this point because Africa came together with a strong unity of a purpose that is rooted in the aspiration of young people for a better future.’’
President Kagame emphasized that Africa is richly blessed in both natural and human resources, thus, Africans had sufficient resources with their reach to change the continent. He however challenged African leaders to use the abundant resources for the benefits of their people.
Outlining the importance of peace and security in driving economic transformation at the continental and even individual levels, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde noted: “Even though we focus on political issues, we all have the same bold ambition, that our countries are constantly moving forward, but that cannot happen without peace and security.”
Dreams are high for Africa to eventually make its single market a reality. The market, which will be largest in the world if created will boast of around three trillion dollars, free movement of 1.2 billion people, trade barriers and tariffs eliminated. Presently, 21 African nations have ratified the protocol. With one more ratification, then realities of a continental single market would be written in the history of Africa. A total of 22 countries are needed to kick-start the project. In 2018, some 49 African countries signed the continental free trade area agreement. However, out of the 22 countries that have ratified, 21 have passed it to parliament. With the way the African continent has embraced economic transformation despite all odds, realizing this project would present a great milestone for Africa and its leaders.
The forum culminated with a clarion call from participants to eliminate integration barriers for continental transformation. The word of President Amir Ben Yahmed of the Africa CEO Forum stated: “The African private sector and investors must be involved. Development cannot be done without them. Ambition must go to them and civil society, “he then challenged governments to give the African private sector the chance to deliver its part in creating the quality jobs needed for Africa’s population growth.
Article from AFRIC editorial.
Credit image/google images/ Africa CEO Forum 2019