Some of the most influential business leaders from Africa and around the world will head to Kigali for the 7th edition of the Africa CEO Forum (ACF2019) that kicks off on 25-26 March 2019. During its two days, the conference, that will be held under the theme of " African economic integration ", will bring together speakers from various fields to share ideas, network and collaborate, for the purpose of changing Africa for the better.
Photo Credits : Africa CEO Forum ( ACF2019 )
If the Kigali Convention Center (KCC) is gearing up to host the upcoming edition of the Africa CEO Forum, the Rwandan capital city has the opportunity to enhance more than ever its reputation for being one of the business friendly and hyper-connected cities in Africa. Hence, the organizers make every effort to ensure that the event will be both memorable and wildly successful. The Forum culminates on the evening of March 25 with the Africa CEO Forum Awards gala, which salutes entrepreneurs and investors who have built some of Africa’s most successful companies. The two-day event, organised by both Jeune Afrique Media Group, the Africa Report and Rainbow Unlimited — a Swiss company that specializes in investment promotion — will bring together inspiring business people, young entrepreneurs, iconic visionaries, heads of state & government representatives, senior decision-makers, institutional investors, economic experts and import-export professionals.
According to a ACF 2018 press release, the event is designed to be « the largest international gathering of CEOs and investors from the African private sector » who share an abundance of insights and engage in discussions about solutions tackling the continent's majors issues, giving businesses a boost, increasing opportunities for high-paid jobs and creating sustainable economic growth.
The forum will feature a who’s who of prominent business, finance and innovation professionals, including Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, Amy Jadesimi the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), Nadia Fettah, Chairman of Saham Finances, Diane Karusisi CEO of the Bank of Kigali, Patrick Njoroge, governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, Kuseni Dlamini, Chairman of Massmart, Naguib Sawiris,Egyptian investor, Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Junior John Ngulube, CEO of Sanlam Emerging Market, Joshua Oigara, CEO of Kenya Commercial Bank and Jim Ovia, founder of Zenith Bank ( Source : Jeune Afrique).
Kigali, an attractive place to invest
Who could have imagined, back in 1994, that Rwanda would become, a quarter of a century later, one of Africa's fastest-growing economies and was named among the easiest places in the world to do business, just ahead of France, Russia and Spain, according to the World Bank's latest Ease of Doing Business rankings (2019) ? The decision to make Kigali the ACF 2019 host city could be interpreted as a strong signal to the whole world that countries should strengthen relations with Africa, a continent that has become the new epicenter where China, India, South Korea or Turkey’ s investors have already refocused their strategy.
« This 7th edition will therefore be held at the heart of the continent, in Rwanda, a country both francophone and anglophone, whose economic dynamism and development model anchored in education, innovation and performance perfectly reflect the values of the Africa CEO Forum » explains Amir Ben Yahmed, initiator of this event.
Rwanda occupies a key strategic position in East Africa as hub for global trade, giving investors and entrepreneurs immediate access to the large Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) of 500 million customers.
Several successful project examples, such as Mergims, AC Group ltd, Irembo, GiraICT, SafeMotos, including startups which are born in Kigali’s tech hub KLab, stand as a symbol of the Land of a Thousand Hills’ rebirth and the rise of the African Tech Scene. In addition, one of the advantages local businesses and foreign-owned subsidiaries is that Rwanda notched up full marks for property registration, according to the World Bank's Doing Business 2019 report.
The local authorities aim to digitize all administrative services in order to cut red tape. Furthermore, Rwanda has become the first African country, outside China, to benefit from the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) a new trading platform built by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd giving local businesses the sell products directly to the Chinese market, which makes them more competitive in the global retail landscape and cement the country’s reputation as an new epicenter of technological innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.
Kigali 's Central Business District, Rwanda - Photo Credits : Rwanda Development Board (RDB)
Signs of renewed confidence in the Rwandan market, with investors that acknowledge its technological readiness and its business dynamism : The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), a powerful agency reponsible for attracting investment and stimulating economic growth — modeled on the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Economic Development Board Mauritius — recently announced that it registered 173 investment projects in Rwanda worth US$ 2.006 billion, an increase of approximately 20%, when compared to the investments registered in 2017. There is no doubt that RDB set to offer up a optimistic outlook on Rwanda and encourage foreign investors to take advantage of the business opportunities available in the country.
A Brief History of the Africa CEO Forum
ACF was established five years ago in Switzerland , under the leadership of Amir Ben Yahmed, CEO of the Jeune Afrique Group, in a context marked by obstacles chief executives regularly faced in Africa, such high tariffs on imported goods, low intra-African trade, limited integration, small domestic markets, cumbersome administrative procedures, transportation costs etc. The more so as Africa has only eight of the top-100 on the World Bank’s Doing Business report. The 1st edition of the forum, that was held in Geneva on 19-21 November 2012, allowed CEOs, heads of state and leading experts to share their thoughts, experiences and solutions and tackle all these bottlenecks .
Nowadays, the situation has changed : nearly 40 African countries carried out 107 reforms to improve their business climate during the past year, including the areas of starting a business , registering property and access to credit. Moreover, Africa has six of the world's ten fastest growing economies in 2018 : Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Senegal and Tanzania. But despite these statistics, there is still a very long way to go, with regard to rural electrification, access to healthcare, strategies to stimulate inclusive growth, inequality reduction, ecological transition, increased intra-African trade and relaxed border controls. These are just a small selection of the topics that came up in the previous six editions. However, this year's theme will focus on African economic integration.
At its last edition in Abidjan in March 2018, the Africa CEO Forum pointed out that
« it brought together 1,500 business leaders, public decision-makers and investors from Africa and around the world for two days of discussions around the need to transform African champions in the face of international competition ».
Henceforth, the conference will take place in the Land of a Thousand Hills and aims to make ACF2019 much better than last year’s edition in Ivory Coast.
The Kigali Convention Center, Rwanda - Photo Credits : Rwanda Development Board (RDB)
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