At the Africa 2018 Forum held in Sharm-El-Sheik from 8-9 December 2018, the role of women and young people in unlocking the economic potential of Africa took centre stage. The Forum is an international event hosted under the High Patronage of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Republic of Egypt, aiming to promote greater economic integration through increased investment flows into Africa.
Gathering more than 1,000 leaders in business and policy from across Africa and the world, including a delegation from the African Development Bank headed by President Adesina, the first day's events featured a Young Entrepreneurs' Day and a discussion on Women Empowering Africa (WEA).
The plenary panel entitled "The Gender Agenda: Moving Forward Together" was attended by women leaders such the African Development Bank's Director Vanessa Moungar; African Union's Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop; Executive Chairman of Kalagadi Manganese, Daphne Nkosi; and the Chairperson of EFG Hermes Holding S.A.E., Mona Zulficar. Maggie Kigozi, President of Business & Professional Women (BPW) Kampala & SDG5 Ambassador, moderated the panel.
The panel discussions were devoted to devising ways and means of bringing about greater participation of women in policy and strategy development both in government and in business boardrooms. Particular attention was focused on addressing the advantages, successes and challenges of nurturing African female entrepreneurship and leadership, whilst focusing on ways to connect emerging female entrepreneurs with mentors as well as investors.
"Women will never fully participate in private sector growth and be a driving force for economies until access to key enablers such as health and education are provided especially at grassroots level. To fully unleash the potential of women as engines of growth in Africa we must invest massively in these sectors. Investing in women is investing in Africa's future," said Moungar.
The African Union's Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop said, "We need more women in corporate boards, governance, as funds managers, including a higher participation of women and especially girls in science and technology...The African Union is committed to work with the African Development Bank, the United Nations and other strategic partners to revert these trends."
"We cannot address issues of culture, tradition, and mindset shifts without the support of men. For these to shift we need passion, patience, perseverance and strategic partnerships," the Chairperson of EFG Hermes Holding S.A.E., Mona Zulficar said.
Daphne Mushile Nkosi, Executive Chairman of Kalagadi Manganese concluded by saying: "I'm now amongst the 100 most influential women in mining, and the majority of them are found in Africa. So, I have seen successful stories of women in leadership positions in high value-added industries such as mining, but it's fundamental to 'lift whilst we rise' as success doesn't come easy, especially for us women, and we must carry our scars and continue to encourage and inspire other women."
Nkosi's mine has received a loan of €150 million from the Bank.
Panellists agreed on the urgent need to work together with all public and private stakeholders in harnessing the potential of African women to generate greater cohesion and greater economic growth for the benefit of society and Africa as a whole.