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African Leaders call for “Partnership not Support” at the Africa Business and Investment Forum

By Corporate Council on Africa
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Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in partnership with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) hosted the Africa Business and Investment Forum on January 30, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Forum was held on the margins of the African Union (AU) Summit, and served as a high-level platform for U.S. and African private sector engagement with African Heads of State, Ministers, senior USG officials, and multilateral institution representatives.

At the Forum, African Heads of State insisted that they are committed to working with both public and private enterprises, to ensure the business environment is favorable and attractive to the international business community. Their message was loud and clear: Africa requires partnership, not support.

The event was opened by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, the ascending Chairman of the African Union, and was joined by fellow Heads of State including H.E. Hailemariam

Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, and H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique. They participated in a series of roundtable discussions on Trade and Diversification, Energy, Agribusiness, and Health. The roundtables enabled key African and U.S. private sector executives to engage in conversations and share insights with key government officials and decision-makers.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda commended CCA and UNECA for putting in the “effort to draw business leaders into this conversation about public-private sector investment in Africa.” “This is long overdue and I trust that it will become a regular event during our Summits,” he added.

Florie Liser, President and CEO of Corporate Council on Africa [CCA], remarked, “Today was a great opportunity for UN and AU leadership to hear the voice of international private enterprises and investors who want to do business with Africa, and ensure that business relations between the U.S. and the continent continue to grow. Our CCA members, and guests at the Forum, were hugely encouraged to hear from the continent’s leaders that Africa is an attractive destination for investment.”

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission on Africa, emphasized the importance of the public sector’s efforts to promote public-private partnerships: “Today’s Africa Business and Investment Forum demonstrated that our African leaders are committed to paving the way for private investors in the U.S. and the rest of the international community, to invest in Africa.”

Over 150 CEOs and senior executives of key U.S and African companies, both multinationals and SMEs, participated in the Forum, thus contributing to the ongoing dialogue around business and investment in Africa. The Forum aimed to increase opportunities for business partnerships, encourage the adoption of business-friendly policies, and showcase countries and policies that are contributing to an enabling environment for enhanced African regional and global trade and investment.

CCA and UNECA, through the Africa Business and Investment Forum, ensured that the voice and views of the private sector were heard by UN and AU leadership, and urged that both African and U.S. policies fully address the day-to-day challenges faced by the private sector operating in Africa.