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Figuring how to support and promote private sector led growth in Africa was the main focus of the Africa Business and Investment Forum held at the Sheraton Addis Hotel on January 30, 2018.
The African Business and Investment Forum is a platform for African and U.S. private sector executives to share insights with African heads of states, ministers, senior United States Government officials, representatives of multilateral institutions and others.
African leaders present at the Forum underlined that the continent needs partnership instead of support when it comes to doing business.
“Today’s Africa Business and Investment Forum demonstrated a real commitment by our African leaders that they are focused on paving the way for private investors in the U.S. and the rest of the international community, to invest in Africa,” Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission on Africa said.
The Forum that was officially opened by Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and the current Chairperson of the African Union, was attended by heads of states of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Niger, Senegal and Mozambique.
“This is long overdue and I trust that it will become a regular event during the African Union Summit,” stated Kagame in his opening speech. He also commended the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), who held the event in partnership, for having the initiative to bring in business leaders into the dialogue of public-private sector investment in Africa.
On his part Hailemariam Desalegn stated that Africa is working tirelessly to get policy and legislative conditions right to ease the business environment and attract foreign direct investment.
“Africa has been on the investment radar of many multinationals for decades now as witnessed by increased investment in infrastructure, agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism, to mention but a few. Still Africa’s market and resource potential remains untapped,” the Prime Minister said.
He further underlined that the Ethiopian government I seeking to employ policies and strategies for positioning the country as an attractive investment destination for productive investors.
“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,” stated Florie Liser, President and CEO of CCA.
Over 150 CEOs and senior executives of key U.S. and African companies, both multinationals and SMEs, also participated in the Forum.
They deliberated on the ongoing dialogue around Africa to increase opportunities for business partnerships, secure commitments to and tracking the adoption of business-friendly policies, and showcasing countries and policies that are contributing to an enabling environment for enhanced African regional and global trade and investment.
Discussions at the forum touched on a few topics such as trade and diversification, energy, agribusiness and health. There were also talks on what kind of day-to-day challenges the private sector faces and how these challenges are addressed.
The platform is expected to increase opportunities for business partnerships, secure commitments 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, including with the United States.