Meeting of Africa Forum 2018 kicked off on Saturday in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh with the participation of a number of African leaders from the countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
The forum will see discussions on infrastructure, entrepreneurship, investment, and women-related issues across the African continent.
The two-day event is organised by the Egyptian government through the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation and COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA), with the participation of more than 3,000 African entrepreneurs.
COMESA countries include Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The first day saw several sessions under the theme "Young Entrepreneurs Day," including one on strengthening regional economic systems in Africa by means of consolidating cross-border cooperation and opening up new markets for African economic blocs.
Another session on policies of African countries was held in the light of developments being witnessed in the entrepreneurship domain in Africa. A number of sessions on empowering the African women were also held, including a roundtable discussion on the importance of gender equality in achieving African progress.
Another session discussed the role of women in outlining policies of the African continent with the participation of Egypt's Immigration Minister Nabila Makram, Environment Minister Yasmeen Fouad, Mali's Foreign Minister Kamissa Camara and COMESA Secretary-General Chileshe Kapwepwe.
As a unique business-to-business and government-to-business platform, bringing together policy makers, financiers, leading industrialists and young entrepreneurs, this year's Africa Forum will focus on developing intra-African investments and the efforts to create the world's largest trading bloc of 1.2 billion people.
The forum features keynote speeches, interactive panel discussions, expert presentations and B2B engagement opportunities.
"I am happy that the organisers and the government of Egypt chose to put youths and women at the centre stage ... that is the whole programme for today," Vanessa Moungar, director for Gender, Women and Civil Society at the African Development Bank, told Xinhua.
Moungar said the African continent cannot develop without fully empowering its women, adding that this requires giving them equal access to education, health services and economic opportunity so that they can fully participate in private sector growth and make choices for themselves.