Published November 12, 2018
The 5th ALN Africa Investment Conference, held on 7 and 8 of November 2018 at its new venue, the Four Seasons Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai, has concluded.
Having welcomed a strong turnout of over 300 guests, including distinguished opinion leaders and influential investors, the event was throughtout marked by energy, high level of interaction and insightful debate. This year's delegates were also treated to an exclusive concert by multi-award winning Kenyan afro pop group Sauti Sol, sponsored by Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC). His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the Minister of Tolerance for the UAE, delivered the keynote address.
Several state leaders as well as current and former heads of state from across Africa attended the event, including H.E. Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, Former Prime Minister of Mali and ALN Chairman; Saulos Chilima, Vice President of Malawi, and Mmusi Maimane, Leader of the Democratic Alliance in South Africa.
On day one of the event, Dr. Greg Mills, Director of the Brenthurst Foundation, delivered insightful welcoming remarks outlining the enormous potential Africa holds due to its rapidly growing youth population as well as an increasing move towards more stable and democratic models of governance.
With political change affecting key African markets over the last 12 months, our panel sessions that followed looked at the social, economic and political challenges and rewards of opening up Africa for business, including strategies for economic diversification. There was a particular focus on the ways in which government and the private sector can collaborate to leverage greater efficiencies and drive more innovative policy solutions across the continent.
The day one of the conference also highlighted practical ways of doing business in Africa and there were some lively sessions around the challenges and opportunities of accelerated urbanization and the role of smart cities in tackling the pressing issues in city centres. Building on this, Barnaby Fletcher, a Senior Analyst from Control Risks, presented the third edition of the Africa Risk Reward Index, launched at the ALN Africa Investment Conference, which outlined country-specific analysis on each African nation with respect to their investment climate and economic landscape.
Day two opened up with a discussion on how to create the optimum family business structure and establish a long lasting and sustainable organisation. Panelists from a range of industries and sectors commented on the importance of team work and succession planning as crucial factors to ensure longevity of a business.
The session was followed by regional spotlight discussions on Northern and Southern Africa. Experts operating in Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco shed light on the challenges and opportunities facing the North Africa region which is often seen as a bridge for investors between Africa and the Middle East, particularly against a backdrop of positive government reforms as of late. Meanwhile, a lively dialogue took place around the southern countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa, with an emphasis placed on empowering youth in order to catalyse greater innovation and entrepreneurship.
The debate between utilising fossil fuels or renewable energy also took centre stage later in the morning as panelists examined the complexities of achieving the right energy mix. From tackling social and community issues caused by energy infrastructure, to the impact of climate change and droughts on the continent, to delivering low cost electricity to the population – the industry leaders considered how Africa can drive industrialisation while also reducing their overall carbon footprint.
In our increasingly globalised world, today’s closing session fittingly looked at the role of foreign investors in Africa and how the continent is now being viewed as a land of opportunity and prosperity. A great emphasis was placed on the need for Africa to be forward-looking and not – as one panelist aptly put it – “a victim or an object of desire to be fought over and divided”. It is crucial that the partnership between foreign investors and local entities and individuals be a true collaboration, rather than operating in an exploitative, zero-sum game.
The 5th ALN Africa Investment Conference closed with a look at the future of Africa, and how disruptive technological solutions and the growing youth population are evolving investment opportunities and will unlock Africa’s incredible promise and potential.