*Over 1,000 delegates expected to discuss, collaborate on African trade and investment

By Ikenna Asomba

The Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt and COMESA Regional Investment Agency have announced the holding of Africa 2017, a high-level forum offering participants an unparalleled platform for promoting trade and investment within Africa.

The Forum will be held under the High Patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt on 7-9 December 2017, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

H.E. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

The three-day conference will convene high-level delegations of leaders in business and policy from across Africa and worldwide, including heads of state and some of the most important CEOs of the continent.

Africa 2017 will kick-off with a Young Entrepreneurs Day (YED) that will bring together emerging entrepreneurs with more established ones, in addition to mentors, start-up hubs, angel investors and venture capital firms, to share ideas, network and help drive further the business ideas of tomorrow.

The Africa 2017 YED has partnered with top-notch incubators, entrepreneurship programmes and VC funds.

Egypt is known across Africa and the Middle East to have developed pro-innovation ecosystems where emerging entrepreneurs have been able to flourish.

Cross section of Discussants at the 2016 edition of the Forum

In 2015, Egypt hosted the Tripartite Summit where a free trade agreement was signed, bringing together three regional economic communities, SADC, EAC and COMESA, effectively creating, with its 26 Member States, the largest trading block on the continent. This ‘borderless economy’ would rank as 15th in the world in terms of GDP.

Speaking on the Forum, H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, reiterated the African opportunity based on business-minded reforms taking place across the continent.

Nasr said: “The Forum has the objective of promoting investments into our continent, and especially cross-border investments. In Egypt, we have undertaken an ambitious economic reform programme, of which a key ingredient is improving the business environment and overall country competitiveness. Such efforts go hand-in-hand with our commitment to serve as a strategic gateway for Africa and the world.”

President, African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina addressing the gathering in 2016

As part of the Forum, Egypt will be showcasing its flagship mega-projects including the construction of a new capital city 45km outside of Cairo, and a number of industrial and special economic zone projects along the Suez Canal, among others.

This Forum reinforces Egypt’s commitment to support and enhance the economic and cultural integration of Africa and to spur investment into what is still one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

Commenting on the sustained investor confidence with regards to Africa and the Forum, Heba Salama, COMESA Regional Investment Agency Director, said that “Africa, and in particular the COMESA Region, continues to offer some of the best returns on investment in the world. Africa 2017 will be an unparalleled occasion to gather the architects of Africa’s future and drive further the transformative investment projects of tomorrow”.

The Forum is by invitation only. Interested parties can apply for an invitation through the event website: www.businessforafricaforum.com.

2017 Speakers

Meanwhile, eminent personalities billed to speak at the Summit include: H.E. Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Sherif Ismail, Prime Minister, Arab Republic of Egypt; H.E. Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, Prime Minister, Republic of Mozambique; H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Arab Republic of Egypt; H.E. Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary-General, COMESA; Heba Salama, Director, COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA), Egypt; Abdelmalek Alaoui, CEO, La Tribune Afrique, Morocco; Acha Leke, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co, South Africa; Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO, Trade and Development Bank (TDB), Ethiopia; Ahmed A. Sadek El Sewedy, President and CEO, El Sewedy Electric, Egypt; Ahmed Heikal, Chairman and Founder, Qalaa Holdings, Egypt; Ahmed El Alfi, Founder, Flat6Labs, Sawari Ventures and TATP, Egypt and Ali Khalpey, CEO Frontier Market, EFG Hermes, Egypt.

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame is expected to speak during the Africa 2017 Forum.

Others include: Angel Gurria, Secretary General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, France; Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group and Mara Foundation, Uganda; Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, President and Chairman, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Nigeria; Bosun Tijani, CEO and Co-Founder, CcHUB, Nigeria; H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President, IDB Group, Chairman, Board of Executive Directors, Islamic Development Bank, Saudi Arabia; Basil El-Baz, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Carbon Holdings, Egypt; Bassem Loukil, Chairman, Groupe Loukil, Tunisia; Ben White, Founder, VC4Africa, Netherlands – USA; Dr. Carlos Lopes, Former Executive Secretary, UNECA, and Professor, University of Cape Town, Guinea-Bissau; H.E. Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, Former Transitional Prime Minister, Republic of Mali; Dr. Christopher John Kirubi, Chairman, Haco Industries Ltd., Kenya; Dr. Christopher Marks, Managing Director and Head of Emerging Markets, EMEA, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan; Dr. Daniel Matjila, CEO, Public Investment Corporation (SOC) Limited, South Africa and Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Chairman, Centum, Kenya.

Sherif Ismail, Prime Minister, Arab Republic of Egypt Is expected to speak during the Africa 2017 Forum

Also billed to speak are: Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia, Chairman, ENSafrica Ghana; Elizabeth Rossiello, Founder and CEO, BitPesa, Kenya; Eric Monga, Chairman, Kipay Energy, DR Congo; Folorunso Alakija, Vice-Chairman, Famfa Oil, Nigeria; George Otieno, CEO, African Trade Insurance Agency, Kenya; Amb. Helen Hai, CEO Made in Africa Initiative, China; Ibrahim Cheikh Diong, Founder and CEO, Africa Consulting and Trading, Senegal; Ibukun Adebayo, Head of Middle East, Africa and South Asia, International Markets Unit, London Stock Exchange, United Kingdom; Ibukun Awosika; Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, Limited; Isabel dos Santos, CEO, Sonangol, Angola; Issam Chleuh, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SUGUBA, Mali; John Tanui, MBS, Chief Operating Officer, Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), Kenya; Julie Essiam, CEO, EcoBank Foundation, Togo; Justin DeAngelis, Managing Director, Denham Capital, USA; Karim Awad, Chief Executive Officer, EFG Hermes Holding, Egypt; Karim Sadek, Director of the Board, Nile Logistics, Egypt; Keiko Honda, Executive Vice President and CEO, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Bank Group, USA; Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank, USA; Kuseni Dlamini, Chairman, Massmart; South Africa; Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing, Chairman, SBM Holdings Ltd., Mauritius; Lanre Akinola, Editor, African Business, United Kingdom; Hon. Lionel Zinsou, President, PAI Partners and Former Prime Minister of Benin Republic; Lukwesa Burak, Presenter BBC; Prof. Maggie Kigozi, Chairman, Zuri Model Farm Ltd., Uganda; Mariam Allam, Head, MENA-OECD Governance Programme, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, France; Mark Eddo, CEO, Mark Eddo Media Ltd., Nigeria; Rt. Hon. Mark Simmonds, Former Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, Africa, the Caribbean, UK Overseas Territories, United Kingdom; Mohammed Farid Saleh, Chairman, The Egyptian Exchange and The Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges, Egypt; Dr. Mohammed Omran, Chairman, Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, Egypt; Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Managing Partner and Global Head of Private Equity, Abraaj Capital, UAE; Nnamdi Oranye, Founder, Disrupting Africa, South Africa and Noomane Fehri, CEO, B@labs, Tunisia.

Folorunso Alakija, Vice-Chairman, Famfa Oil, Nigeria is expected to speak during the Africa 2017 Forum

Other Speakers are: Nozipho Mbanjwa, Anchor, CNBC Africa, South Africa; Oliver Andrews, Executive Director and Chief Investments Officer, Africa Finance Corporation, Nigeria; Oulimata Sarr, Regional Advisor on Women Economic Empowerment, UN Women, Senegal; Parminder Vir, CEO Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Nigeria; Paul Appleby, Head of Energy Economics, BP, United Kingdom; Paul Hinks, Founder and CEO, Symbion Power, USA; Rebecca Enonchong, Founder and CEO, AppsTech, Cameroon; Saad Sheik, Portfolio Manager, TGL Capital, United Kingdom and H.R.H. Sanyogita Atrey, Chairperson and Managing Director, SG18 Realty Pvt Ltd., India.

Also speaking are: Sacha Poignonnec, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Jumia, Nigeria; Sharif El-Badawi, Partner, 500 Startups and Chairman, TechWadi, USA; Segeni Ng’ethe, Ambassador, BRCK Limited, Kenya; Sipho P.M. Phiri, Executive Chairman, Western Power Company Limited, Zambia; Slim Othmani, Chairman, Rouiba, Algeria; Sri Venkataramani, Managing Director and CEO, Africa and Middle East, Olam International, Singapore; Stephen Jennings, Founder and CEO, Rendeavour, United Kingdom; Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Chairman and Founder, Heirs Holdings and Tony Elumelu Foundation, Nigeria; Umana Okon Umana, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Nigeria; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, UNECA, Cameroon; Victor Kgomoeswana, Director and Author, Africa is Open for Business, South Africa; Wale Ayeni, Head, Africa Venture Capital Investments, International Finance Corporation, among others.