Their message was loud and clear: Africa requires partnership, not support. African Heads of State insisted they have a clear mandate to work with both public and private enterprises, to ensure the business environment is favourable and attractive to the international business community.
The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), hosted Heads of State from five African countries, at the inaugural Africa Business and Investment Forum, held on January 30, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission on Africa, said: “Today’s Africa Business and Investment Forum demonstrated a real commitment by our African leaders that they are focussed on paving the way for private investors in the U.S. and the rest of the international community, to invest in Africa.”
The event was opened by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, the ascending Chairman of the African Union, and was joined by fellow Heads of State including H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, and H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, who discussed diverse areas including Trade and Diversification, Energy, Agribusiness, and Health, in a series of roundtable discussions.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda commended the CCA and ECA for, “This effort to draw business leaders into this conversation about public-private sector investment in Africa”.
“This is long overdue and I trust that it will become a regular event during our Summits,” he added.
Florie Liser, President and CEO Corporate Council on Africa [CCA], said, “Today was a great opportunity for UN and AU leadership to hear the voice of international private enterprises and investors who want to do business with Africa, and ensure that business relations between the U.S. and the continent continue to grow. Our CCA members, and guests at the Forum, were hugely encouraged to hear from our continent’s leaders that Africa is an attractive destination for investment.”
Over 150 CEOs and senior executives of key U.S and African companies, both multinationals and SMEs, also participated in the Forum, contributing to the ongoing dialogue around Africa to increase opportunities for business partnerships, secure commitments to as well as track the adoption of business-friendly policies, and showcase countries and policies that are contributing to an enabling environment for enhanced African regional and global trade and investment.
The Forum was held on the margins of the African Union (AU) Summit, and served as a high-level platform for U.S. and African private sector engagement.