By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Many prominent figures in the business world across the continent have already confirmed their participation for the prestigious Africa CEO Forum 2020 taking place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on March 9 and 10.
This is going to be the eighth edition of the largest international gathering of the African private sector with the role of capitalism sparking intense debate around the world and as the need to “do good” becomes increasingly pressing in Africa.
A statement from the organisers said 1,800 leading decision-makers from industry, finance and politics will come together in Abidjan to boost the impact of African companies and set the tone of the discussions and meetings.
For two days, the Africa CEO Forum 2020 will drive public-private dialogue forward by providing a platform where economic leaders and public-sector representatives can discuss key sectoral challenges, as well as stimulate, as it does year after year, significant transactions in favour of the regional and pan-African growth of the private sector and the development of the continent in general.
Some of those expected at the event include Philippe Le Houérou, CEO of IFC; Abdulsamad Rabiu, Executive Chairman of BUA Group; Alain Law Min, CEO of Mauritius Commercial Bank; Amadou Hott, Minister of Economy of Senegal; Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holding; Mohamed Mohsen, CEO of Arab Contractors; Albert Yuma, Chairman of Gécamines; Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali; Jean Kacou Diagou, Chairman of NSIA; and Toyin Sanni, CEO of Emerging Africa Group.
Others are Sérgio Pimenta, VP Africa and Middle-East of IFC; Richard Bielle, Chairman of the Management Board of CFAO; Mohamed El Kettani, CEO of Attijariwafa Bank; Colin Mukete, CEO of Spectrum Group; Kuseni Dlamini, Chairman of Massmart; Jean-Pierre Dalais, Group Chief Executive of Ciel Ltd; and Rita Maria Zniber, CEO of Diana Holding.
Also confirmed for the forum include Manuel Mota, CEO of Mota-Engil; Anne Rigail, CEO of Air France; Austin Avuru, CEO of Seplat; Zouhair Bennani, CEO of Label’Vie; Abdoulaye Magassouba, Minister of Mines & Geology of Guinea; Sacha Poignonnec, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Jumia; Peter Matlare, Deputy CEO of Absa Group; Peter Njonjo, CEO of Twiga Foods; Hassanein Hiridjee, CEO of Axian Group ; Karim Lofti Senhadji, CEO of OCP Africa and Alioune Ndiaye, CEO Middle-East and Africa of Orange.
Growing inequality, the advent of climate risk, technological revolutions and resurgent protectionism: at a time when these four major disruptions are turning the global private sector upside down and pointing to capitalism’s fundamental transformation worldwide, the leaders of Africa’s economy and largest companies have been slow to participate in the topical discussion surrounding “capitalism and the common good”.
Nonetheless, there is another side to the story of African business: on the continent, more than anywhere, the private sector is demonstrating that “doing business” and “doing good” can be one and the same. There, telecom providers are promoting financial inclusion, investors are developing distributed solar energy facilities, agribusiness is prioritising on-site supply and processing: such examples of “business for good” are gradually becoming commonplace in Africa.
Given this issue critical to Africa’s development and following on the Africa CEO Forum 2018, which covered the impact of digital technology, and the Africa CEO Forum 2019, which covered the best approach to take to ensure the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Some of the issues to be thoroughly discussed are should Africa’s private sector integrate strategic priorities such as the fight against growing inequality, environmental battles, job creation, youth inclusion, etc.? How can these objectives be reconciled with competitiveness challenges? What role do companies and their leaders play in view of the changes underway and are they equipped to deal with them? How can the digital tidal wave be transformed into an impact accelerator?
“Convinced that the world’s major companies must – and can – bring about a paradigm shift, MCB is proud to participate in the Africa CEO Forum’s initiative to create a new movement promoting common-good capitalism. Painting a new horizon for the African private sector is a strategic priority at a time when the inequality gap continues to widen, imbalances remain significant and environmental risk grows.
“CSR is today a major issue for African companies who are increasingly being assessed on their actions in this area. We also believe that it is a tremendous source of opportunities for Africa’s development, requiring a greater collaboration between public and private sectors. It is that dynamic that we want to significantly boost,” commented Alain Law Min, CEO of MCB.
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