The Africa Business Conference is the world’s largest student run event focused on business in Africa. It brings together about 1,200 participants and is the ultimate networking opportunity for business and community leaders, corporate sponsors, students, educators from around the world and anyone passionate about business opportunities in Africa.
Finance Deputy Minister Miles Sampa (centre) flanked by
AU Ambassador Amina Ali (left) and ADB Vice President
Charles Boamah (right) during a discussion themed Africa on the
move at Harvard School of Government and Leadershipin Boston, Massachusetts
The 15th Annual Africa Business Conference was held on the 15th-17th February, 2013 at the Harvard Business School campus in Boston, Massachusetts.
According to the 2013 Africa Business Conference co-chairs Trish Amoah-Ntim and Jessica Asinugo, the conference was aimed at providing a multi-dimensional view of the various ways in which individuals and businesses alike are redefining Africa and cementing its place in history as a strong contributor to the global economy.
The conference was themed “Redifining Africa: The Emergence of a New African Story” in recognition of the fact that as Africa evolves, so too must the World’s perception of her”, they stated.
Three phenomenal keynote speakers graced the discussions. These were Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian Minister of Finance who is also Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Nkosana Moyo, the Executive Chairman at the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) in South Africa and Ms. Eva Muraya Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Colors Creation Limited in Kenya.
Panelists and moderators exchanged ideas throughout the 23 panels covering a broad range of fascinating and relevant issues. These included the following:
· Venture Capital in Sub Saharan Africa,
· Media Roles and Responsibilities in Defining Africa,
· Tackling Corruption and Good Governance in Africa,
· Africa Debt Capital Markets,
· Empowering Women in Business,
· Transportation Infrastructure in Sub Saharan Africa,
· Private Equity: Creating Value during the Investment Holding Period,
· Education and Healthcare, Infrastructure and Natural Resources
· Agribusiness in Africa
· Oil and Gas
· Insurance in Africa
· Scaling up the African Pharmaceutical Industry
· New Era of China-Africa relations
· Foreign Investment
· Business and Geopolitics
One such panel comprised the African Union Permanent Representative to the United States of America Ambassador Amina Ali, the African Development Bank (ADB) Vice President of Finance, Mr. Charles Boamah , Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OnPoint Africa Group Mr Amadou Sanankoua and Zambian Deputy Minister of Finance and National Planning Miles Sampa.
In his introductory remarks to the discussion themed “Africa on the Move: A discussion with Experts from the Field”, Mr. Sampa urged his audience to pay particular attention to Africa as the continent was poised to be the next ‘frontier of investment’. This, he said, was against a background of huge raw materials, natural resources and a rapid and economic population that the continent was experiencing.
“Africa is growing, Africa is modernizing. It is no longer the hopeless continent as was portrayed in the early 2000. It is a continent in progress, in constant evolution, with an ongoing commitment to offering its people better living conditions,” he added.
He briefed the meeting that Africa could no longer continue to be known as the continent of negatives, but one where growth rate was exceeding seven per cent annually, where democracy was beginning to thrive, where governance was taking root and where corruption was being rooted out.
To substantiate his statement, Mr. Sampa gave an example of Zambia and proudly noted that after concerted efforts of reform, and because of the country’s conducive and enabling environment for the private sector, industrial growth, political stability and most of all ‘peace’, Zambia is ranked among the top 10 countries in Sub Saharan Africa in the “Ease of Doing Business” and according to the 2013 World Bank report and among the top 100 in the world.
It was in this regard that the Deputy Minister encouraged Harvard scholars to undertake research that not only highlighted Africa’s huge economic potential but also research that would rebrand the continent away from negative adjectives.
He concluded,” Africa needs to rebrand itself an image that it is not a continent of war, famine, disease and all the bad vices that are presented to us by the media. There is a positive side we are proud of such as in agriculture, tourism, mining, oil deposits, education and the construction of modern cities.”
On her part, African Union Permanent Representative to the United States of America Ambassador Amina Ali first spoke about the African Union’s strategies to accelerate socio economic integration of Africa, promotion of peace and stability, building partnerships between African governments and all segments of the civil society, in particular women, youth and the private sector.