Africa Investment Forum Senior Director Chinelo Anohu said Africans must reject the status quo approach to their continent and work with the private sector, governments and development partners to take advantage of its immense opportunities.
Anohu was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the 2023 Africa Futures Symposium organized by the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in Philadelphia, US.
The Lauder Institute was founded in 1983 by Ronald Lauder and his brother Leonard, heirs to the Estee Lauder cosmetics company. The Lauder Institute incorporates an Africa program that prepares students to lead Africa-focused conversations in today’s global economy.
Ronald Lauder has been a champion of Africa’s development and prosperity. In 2015 he co-founded Alta Semper, a private equity firm that has invested over $150 million in market-leading healthcare companies in Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.
Theme of the 2023 Symposium, changing narratives, Reflects a comprehensive move to reposition Africa as an attractive investment destination with high returns.
It is also in line with the objectives of the Africa Investment Forum, a flagship initiative of the African Development Bank and seven founding partners, to advance private and public partnership transactions to financial closure across Africa.
“The story of Africa needs to be transformed through partnership, investment, not aid and engagement in a way that moves the continent forward,” Anohu said. “We must adopt a symbiotic approach, a collaborative effort with the private sector, public institutions and individuals to achieve impactful results.”
Anuohu commended the United States for its continued commitment to Africa and the Africa Investment Forum in particular. The Forum and the United States Trade and Development Agency jointly hosted an event last July for 40 women leaders at the forefront of sustainable infrastructure in Africa regarding feasibility studies and financing of eligible transactions in areas targeted for transaction A memorandum of understanding was completed. Advisory services to project sponsors. This collaboration has resulted in project preparation funding for one of the women-led projects on the AIF platform.
He added that the Africa Investment Forum’s flagship Market Days event, to be held in November 2023, will bring together international deal sponsors, investors and government leaders to access transactions that are ready to move towards closing.
The projects showcased at the 2022 Market Days event held last November attracted $31 billion in investment interest from African and global investors. The rescheduled 2021 Market Days event, which took place in March 2022, raised an additional $32.8 billion in investor interest during that calendar year, for a total of $63.8 billion.
Following Anohu’s keynote speech, Margaret Mensah-Williams, Namibia’s ambassador to the US, was joined by Akunna Cook, founder and CEO of Next Narrative Africa; and Oquendo Lewis-Gael, Founder and President of harem bean, To discuss what is on the horizon for Africa.
Lewis-Gale indicated that attitudes of global actors towards Africa were changing, noting that senior representatives from the US, Russia and China had visited African countries in 2023.
Cook explained that he founded next story To counter the portrayal of Africa by Western media as primitive, risky and in need of aid.
“If we don’t replace those images with different images … the effect is that really important investments are not going to the continent and really important partnerships are not being formed on the continent,” she said.
Dr. Regina Abrami, Lauder’s director of global programs opened the second day of the symposium. It brought together academics, and business and government leaders to discuss topics including Africa’s demographic dividend, and the respective roles of the digital economy and diaspora in Africa’s development.
Other speakers included Denise Laurent-Mante, Special Adviser for US-Africa Leaders Summit Implementation at the US State Department, and Dr. Guevara Yao, Executive Director for Africa, US Chamber of Commerce.
Anohu, Senior Director in the Americas, participated in bilateral meetings with several business leaders and institutional investors.
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