The AFRICA CEO FORUM’s program

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!


OPENING CEREMONY

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ECONOMIC INTEGRATION

Making the single market work for African businesses

Voted into existence by 52 African countries, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) sets out to be a powerful tool to foster growth, employment and industrialization. It will also allow companies to benefit from economies of scale and new geographical expansion opportunities. However, the debate currently focuses mainly on trade-related issues, but not enough on the underlying reasons for the low level of intra-African trade (less than 20%), such as inadequate infrastructure and the lack of differentiation between national economies. With the CFTA now about to come into force, how can the private sector best prepare for it? What are the stumbling blocks?

Key points
  • Sectors and countries: who stands to benefit the most from integration?
  • Cross-border infrastructure, air transport agreements, free movement: what are the key priorities beyond custom barriers?
  • How can the reluctance of some private sector stakeholders be best explained and overcome?

  • Moderator

    Eleni Giokos

    Presenter and business news reporter, CNN

  • Expert

    Carlos Lopes

    Honorary professor, University of Cape Town

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NETWORKING BREAK


INDUSTRY OUTLOOK – AGRIBUSINESS

Can the rise of regional markets spark agro-industry competitiveness?

Intra-regional trade of agricultural and agro-industrial products in Africa remains very low, as it accounts for less than 18% of the continent’s trade volume. Obstacles to the emergence of agribusiness regional markets include inadequate infrastructure, high customs tariffs and fragmented value chains. Yet successfully overcoming these challenges would help to significantly improve the competitiveness of the industry by standardizing production and marketing processes within the same region. What conditions must be met to enable the development of regional agro-industrial spaces?

Key points
  • What lessons can be learned from successful regional agricultural policies implemented in other parts of the world?
  • How can regional agro-industrial spaces contribute to modernizing smallholder farming activities?
  • How, and under what conditions, can regional commodity exchanges boost intra-African trade?

  • Moderator

    Agnes Kalibata

    President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

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EAST AFRICA PANEL

East African Community: what can be learned from the first challenges?

Hailed as the most integrated regional economic community on the continent, the East African Community (EAC) is also the fastest-growing bloc in Africa, with a 6% annual GDP growth over the past ten years. This success stems in part from the greater ease of movement between member states and the harmonization of regulations in the banking and telecom industries. But as the bloc heads into its 20th anniversary, a much-heralded customs union is yet to be enforced and political tensions are rising. How can the bloc overcome these new headwinds? What strategies should local champions pursue to grow faster? Should the EAC serve as an example for the future CFTA?

Key points
  • Non-tariff barriers, protectionism: why are major regional businesses still so few?
  • How can the EAC institutions best manage a multi-speed community of countries?
  • What can the CFTA learn from the successes and difficulties of the EAC?

Speakers

  • Ali Mufuruki

    Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Infotech Investment Group

  • Joshua Oigara

    Group Chief Executive Officer and and Managing Director, KCB Group PLC

  • Yvonne Makolo

    Chief Executive Officer, Rwandair

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BUSINESS CASE – DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Digital and Analytics : how to make it a reality for African Champions   

Digital and Data Analytics technologies are disrupting businesses across industries and around the world. Companies cannot sit still while customer expectations are shifting, new business models are emerging and competitors are investing. From access to technical talent, to risk capital, and innovation communities : the challenges are numerous but Digital transformation is also an opportunity to leapfrog others and to eliminate existing inefficiencies. In this session, three executives from leading African Companies will discuss the challenges and opportunities offered by Digital innovations as well as their impact on the organization’s people and culture.

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INVEST IN… TOGO

As the foremost annual meeting of the private sector on the continent, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is the leading platform for public-private dialogue. “Invest In” sessions allow CEOs and investors to meet with high-level African government officials to gain deeper insight into their countries’ economic development strategies. These sessions are designed to facilitate discussions between government delegations and investors on topics ranging from the business environment to the most attractive public and private investment opportunities.

  • Moderator

    Acha Leke

    Chairman Afrique, McKinsey & Compagny

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STRATEGIC ROUNDTABLE – FINANCE (BY INVITATION ONLY)

Building intelligent payment regulation

African business leaders often mention the lack of integrated payment systems as a barrier to trade and to the establishment of a truly integrated continent-wide market. The growing level of investments in financial technology and the increasing number of consumers using digital payment tools should prompt regulators and operators to work together to design suitable and harmonized regulations. The end goal consists in building a homogeneous payment system that will help reduce Africa’s excessively high transaction costs, and make intra-African payments easier.

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PRIVATE SECTOR FINANCING

Development finance institutions and the private sector: how can we build trust?

From the World Bank Group to the African Development Bank, major development institutions see private sector financing as a key component of their strategy. However, both parties need to align their operating models for this approach to succeed. Limiting excessive red tape and lengthy decision making processes are key for the private sector, while development finance institutions are keen on implementing criteria such as ESG principles and good governance. What best practices can be implemented to address these differences and boost DFI financing in the private sector?

Key points
  • Understanding the key differences between the major DFIs and learning how to navigate them
  • Local currency financing, streamlining of procedures: how development financiers are trying to adapt
  • Private companies and investors: how can companies better anticipate institutions’ expectations?

  • Moderator

    Yana Kakar

    Global Managing Partner, Dalberg Advisors

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK – LOGISTICS

From ports to hinterland: reshaping the African logistics value chain

The development of a complete, reliable and competitive supply chain is crucial to Africa’s integration into the global economy, and to the successful implementation of an integrated single market. Over the past fifteen years, an increasing number of ports have been upgraded across the continent and sub-Saharan Africa has attracted more than 10% of global investment in this area. But a large number of needs are still unmet, and the gaps in the rest of the supply chain remain significant. Project operators hence suggest new solutions to modernize the entire African logistics value chain, such as creating dry ports, establishing transport hubs, and clarifying public and private sectors’ roles.

Key points
  • Africa needs major port hubs: from Lomé to Tangier, what lessons can be learned from successful experiences?
  • What corridors can be put in place to develop trade with landlocked countries?
  • Can the CFTA bring regional and pan-African coherence to logistics projects?

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Women on Boards: shattering the glass ceiling!

A growing number of African champions have put gender parity at the top of their agenda. However, the transition of women from executive committees to boards of directors remains a challenge: although they hold 23% of senior management positions, their representation on boards only reaches 14%. The reasons for this discrepancy range from women leaders’ inability to effectively maintain their networks to the lack of impactful company-led initiatives. Women with exceptional careers share their insights and discuss how to reach – and succeed – on boards of directors.

Key Points
  • What challenges do women face in reaching boards and in sustaining their influence on them?
  • What binding measures and other tools can be used by States and employers’ organizations to enforce the feminization of boards?

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NETWORKING LUNCH


LEADER’S VOICE

Featuring conversations with prominent political figures, the Leader‘s Voice session offers exclusive one-on-one interviews with President of Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde on the New Ethiopia, with Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly on how to make Côte d’Ivoire’s growth model more inclusive, and with Kayode Fayemi and Seriake Dickson on fixing Nigeria’s political system and making it work for growth and development.

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INVEST IN… MOROCCO

As the foremost annual meeting of the private sector on the continent, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is the leading platform for public-private dialogue. “Invest In” sessions allow CEOs and investors to meet with high-level African government officials to gain deeper insight into their countries’ economic development strategies. These sessions are designed to facilitate discussions between government delegations and investors on topics ranging from the business environment to the most attractive public and private investment opportunities.

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STRATEGIC ROUNDTABLE – AFRICAN CHAMPIONS (BY INVITATION ONLY)

African Champions’ top recommendations to boost economic integration

Despite being at the front line of economic integration, Africa’s private sector has been mostly left out of the discussions around the creation of the Continental Free Trade Area. In this session, leaders of Africa’s largest companies will define and propose a few simple measures to accelerate African integration.

  • Moderator

    Patrick Dupoux

    Senior Partner and Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK – FINANCE

Banking: Rethinking regional expansion for the digital age  

The geographical expansion strategies of African banking groups have recorded limited success. Several pioneers, from Ecobank to Access Bank, are now partly backtracking, as profitability levels abroad are often lower than those of the country or region of origin. Digitalization, mobile banking, agency banking: by reducing customer acquisition costs, can technological revolutions be the game-changer that brings about the emergence of new and more agile types of regional financial entities?

Key Points
  • Pan-African strategy: what lessons can we learn from past experiences?
  • Why partnerships between telecoms and banks can help to curb potential competition issues?
  • Digital banking: should regulatory authorities relax the rules?

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK – HEALTHCARE

New horizons in healthtech

Africa is the continent that faces the greatest difficulties in achieving broad access to health care. Although the industry is typically managed by governments, synergies between various types of private sector players – from the health, telecom and insurance industries – have led to the emergence of new technologies. From using drones to deliver medicines, to providing insurance services via mobile phones, or performing remote diagnoses: what is the real impact of these digital innovations? Can they be viable, sustainable and impactful without support from the public sector?

Key points
  • How can digital technology help accelerate access to affordable and quality health services?
  • What types of public policies can governments enact to encourage synergies with the private sector?
  • What is the optimal funding model for healthtech projects?

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WORKSHOP – WOMEN (BY INVITATION ONLY)

Drafting a gender diversity charter to reach equality in the workplace

If companies based in sub-saharan Africa employed as many women as men, the region’s overall GDP would increase by 12%. From inclusive human resources policies,  to access to training, and advocacy for diversity: the private sector can have a direct impact on the reduction of gender inequalities.  During this workshop, 60 business leaders will build a gender diversity charter, with the objective of providing African companies with guidance to develop strategies in order to reach equality between men and women in the private sector.  

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NETWORKING BREAK


CEOs BAROMETER

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CEO TALK

Regional integration, global economic tensions, geographic expansion: five of Africa’s top CEOs share their insights and make recommendations on how to best address such challenges and keep their businesses growing.

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GALA DINNER AND AWARDS CEREMONY