THE FIRST AFRICA CEO FORUM, a high-level meeting for the African private sector, opened on Tuesday November 20, in Geneva in the presence of 560 delegates from 32 countries, including more than 300 leaders of major private African enterprises. Approximately 100 investors and financiers, among the most influential in Africa, as well dignitaries from Africa and the rest of the world, attended the event.
The opening ceremony was co-chaired by Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank Group, and Amir Ben Yahmed, Vice-President of the Jeune Afrique Group. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss what is needed to boost African development through the dynamics of growth offered by the continent's private sector.
According to Ben Yamed, one of the major objectives of the forum was to facilitate discussions to ensure African countries find themselves at the forefront of growing emerging economies, supported by a strong private sector managed by internationally recognized leaders.
President Kaberuka held a similar perspective: "Africa has entered the 21st Century determined to throw back shackles of poverty, to converge with the rest of the world, to get the African Lions into the same territory as the Asian Tigers."
This forum falls perfectly in line with the AfDB mission in its bid to "to do more in supporting and promoting the private sector." Moreover, the Africa CEO Forum is an ideal platform for the Bank to exchange ideas and reinforce its ties with private sector leaders.
A better understanding of African private-sector initiatives, enabling the exchange of ideas and different viewpoints, while creating the conditions for an ongoing dialogue with private business people, these are the aspirations of Donald Kaberuka, who proposed "the establishment of an External Consultative Committee of private sector leaders with whom I will readily work hand-in-hand."
The Ben Ahmed also expressed confidence in the future of this initiative: "The aim of the Africa CEO Forum is to showcase this new, energetic, African private sector, which has nothing to envy of its counterparts in other emerging economies."
The Vice-President of the World Bank for the African Region, Makhtar Diop, echoed those sentiments: "This Forum is a confirmation that Africa needs its private sector leaders. The World Bank considers the private sector as a major partner in the development of the African countries as a whole."
Organized by the Jeune Afrique Group in partnership with the AfDB, the Africa CEO Forum called on all participants to come up with answers to questions raised in four plenary meetings chaired by eminent African and international personalities.
This ambitious program was completed during the two-day meeting including nine thematic conferences, which offered ready-made toolkits for CEOs on the latest management trends: international development strategy, access to capital, regional integration, public-private sector dialogue, an in-depth explanation of the legal environment, as well as skills management.