Open Africa: from continental treaties to business realities
From the UK’s planned EU exit to the trade war between China and the USA, a divide is ving up in the global economy. In contrast, a highly fragmented Africa has embarked on an accelerated integration process, with the historic signing in Kigali in March 2018 of the agreement for the creation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
A long negotiation phase is now underway with the aim of eliminating customs tarifs, but greater change is needed if this initiative is to succeed. Logistical and financial barriers, a lack of inter-government coordination, the low level of national economic specialization and the fear of facing increased competition from companies based in neighboring countries are all factors that hamper intra-African trade, and explain the modest size of continental champions.
With Africa struggling to return to sustained growth, and foreign direct investment flagging, the ideal of a common market offers the private sector a unique opportunity. Indeed, business must now weigh in on the ongoing discussions in order to determine the real priorities for economic integration and achieve much-needed changes.
For its seventh edition – 25 and 26 March 2019 – the AFRICA CEO FORUM has decided to unite its 1500 participants around a transformation agenda… What priorities must be identified to boost the level of intra-African trade and investment? What must a united Africa do to better protect its interests and industries? How can we mobilize the private sector around cross-border infrastructure and logistical projects? What insights can be drawn from the East African Community – considered the most successful regional model – given the tense new political waters? How can we create a truly pan-African financial services industry?
During this two-day event – filled with some 40 panels, public-private workshops and case studies – business leaders, shareholders, investors, as well as heads of state and ministers, will discuss these major topics and address additional key challenges for Africa’s private sector, including the representation of top women executives in the boardroom and the modernization of family business governance. The AFRICA CEO FORUM and its participants have a shared objective: using regional integration to drive private sector growth and create more African champions!