The Africa 2018 Forum concluded on December 9th following two days of discussions involving African country heads, business leaders and entrepreneurs of the challenges facing, and opportunities available to, women, young people, the private sector and legislators, in the world’s youngest, most dynamic and most diverse continent.

Attendees shared a common view of the imperative role of African governments and the private sector to work together to tap on the immense opportunities in the continent through nurturing innovation, increasing investment and enhancing regional integration, to create an environment that stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region.

“We’re sending a message to the world that Africa is the future of the world’s economy” – H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sissi.


The Forum was attended by a large number of government leaders — including the Presidents of Sierra Leone, Niger, Madagascar, and the Republic of Rwanda – as well as CEOs of major African and international corporations and high profile figures from over 55 countries.

“Two key words I’m taking from this forum are inspiration and possibilities.” – H.E. Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone.

Notably, several international financial institutions were represented at the Forum, through key figures such as Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of The European Bank for Reconstruction, Philippe Le Houérou, CEO of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank.

In his statements, H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sissi reinforced the importance of fostering pan-African trade and investment, through policies that lead to open borders and support industrial development. He announced his commitment to accelerate the establishment of the Cairo – Cape Town highway, as well as other infrastructure projects that will facilitate the movement of goods and people.

In his statements, H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sissi reinforced the importance of fostering pan-African trade and investment, through policies that lead to open borders and support industrial development. He announced his commitment to accelerate the establishment of the Cairo – Cape Town highway, as well as other infrastructure projects that will facilitate the movement of goods and people.

“Joint efforts to activate projects in all sustainable sectors through local investments are needed, and all African countries should invest in reform programmes to rebuild the continent’s economies“- H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sissi.

The President also highlighted the importance of investing in human capital through providing quality healthcare and education services to equip Africa’s youth with the tools needed to compete in the global job market. In turn, Egypt signed bilateral agreements with several African countries, such as Ethiopia and Uganda, to encourage business activities, knowledge transfer and investment between Egypt and African nations. Egypt\’s existing investments in Africa already surpass $10 billion, while African investments into Egypt, Africa\’s largest economy, reached $2.8 billion.
“The AfCFTA\’s biggest promise is that it will contribute to the continent moving into more value-added production and regional value-chains.”- H.E. Robert Haydn Davies Minister of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

During a number of sessions, International Financial Institutions reflected on the powerful African potential represented in a 1.2 billion consumer market, abundant mineral deposits and the continent being home to the fastest growing middle class in the world. They also discussed the importance of bridging the infrastructure financing gap, to boost pan-African trade and expand international foreign investment inflows.

“There is hunger to move the African continent, and unless we are able to trade amongst ourselves, we cannot expect to develop our infrastructure, or attract foreign investment – Benedict Oramah, President, Afreximbank
Throughout the two days, these institutions emphasized the importance of creating a balance between private and public sector investments, and the importance of mobilizing the private sector to achieve development and connectivity through cross border investments, and reaffirmed that they are working towards a balance between financing infrastructure and other productive sectors.
“At IFC, we have changed our approach. Instead of waiting for investors to come and tell us to finance and structure deals, we are now going out to create markets and opportunities.” Philippe Le Houérou, CEO, IFC, World Bank Group.

During the Young Entrepreneurs Day Presidential Dialogue President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced key efforts, led by Egypt, to boost entrepreneurship and regional integration in Africa. This included the establishment of the first regional entrepreneurship hub in Egypt, and an initiative aimed to train 10,000 young Africans as software and game developers over the next three years.
The Forum was preceded with an event sponsored by the IFC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation launching “Africa’s Next Start-ups”. The initiative, which saw over 500 companies apply from over 35 African countries, selected over 100 start-ups, who were given the opportunity to showcase their businesses, and network with investors and government leaders. Christina Sass, founder of Andela said “the misconceptions people have about African youth are immediately erased after they meet a passionate young African entrepreneur”.
“What I saw at Africa’s Next Start-ups event is the power of dreams and the capacity to turn them into reality. What I was looking at was the future of Africa and the perseverance, hard work and positivity to get it done. There\’s something happening and it\’s real.” – Philippe Le Houérou, CEO of the IFC.
More than 250 start-ups from 35 African countries participated in the Forum.

Following the successful implementation of its economic reform programme, Egypt signed agreements worth $ 1.5 billion on the side-lines of the Forum. The agreements include strategic partnerships to invest in Egypt’s infrastructure, Information Technology, renewable energy, and to foster entrepreneurship and private sector development in the country.

Key agreements signed included Liquid Telecom’s investment of $400 million in Egypt’s IT infrastructure, specifically to launch data centers across Egypt. Additionally, Sawari Ventures North Africa was launched on the first day of the Forum with an initial investment of $70 million to avail venture capital funding across North Africa to SMEs in the financial services, technology, renewable energy, healthcare, education and IT sectors.

Key agreements signed included Liquid Telecom’s investment of $400 million in Egypt’s IT infrastructure, specifically to launch data centers across Egypt. Additionally, Sawari Ventures North Africa was launched on the first day of the Forum with an initial investment of $70 million to avail venture capital funding across North Africa to SMEs in the financial services, technology, renewable energy, healthcare, education and IT sectors.

Several panel discussions during the Forum focused on the growth of technology and innovation, which can create jobs and deliver new solutions that fill unmet needs within the African communities, including access to finance, food security, quality health and education. The subject was discussed at length by founders of African start-ups in the fintech, agri-tech, e-health and e-learning fields, highlighting the opportunity for African youth to catch up and be a part of these technological movements.
developers in the world. It means that it\’s very easy for the African continent to catch up and be part of this revolutionary technological movement.” said Mamadou Toure, Founder of Ubuntu Capital.

One of the most important themes at the Forum was women empowering Africa, and the First Ladies of Niger and Nigeria were among the speakers who highlighted the great benefits communities enjoy when women are empowered, as well as the current challenges facing women in office and in business. According to a recent McKinsey study, companies with the greatest proportion of women on their executive committees earned a return on equity 47% higher than those with no female executive members.
Benita Diop, African Union Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, said that equality between women and men is one of the most important objectives of the African Union through the adoption of more policies and legal mechanisms to support women\’s empowerment and their positive participation. She added that the past period has witnessed the provision of the necessary legal environment to enable women to play a more active role in various economic and political aspects.


Development partners and business leaders emphasized the importance of working with governments to foster reform that can drive private sector development. These experts delved into the case study of Egypt’s liberation of its energy sector through bold legislative reform that lead to massive investments in the renewable energy sector. Egypt today has the largest wind farm in the Middle East and is currently establishing 11 solar panel plants in the South that will add 490 mega wats to its capacity , which will make it the largest producer of solar power in the world.
“Egypt has already got two projects from our bank to finance renewable energy and sustainable rural sanitation projects, and we want to do more in Africa. if we work together the deadline will become a lifeline”- Jin Liqun, President, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Young Entrepreneurs Day
Another key theme during day one of the forum focused on the opportunities and challenges confronting young entrepreneurs and was concluded with a Presidential Dialogue on the topic, attended by President Abdel Fattah El Sissi and President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda.
Panel discussions revolved mainly around the abundant talent pool and the opportunities in the digital sector that can transform African economies. Successful entrepreneurs like Youssri Helmy, Founder of ITWorx, an Egyptian start-up that was established in 1994 and exists today in 10 countries worldwide, explained that the primary challenge is to avail the necessary early stage funding. “There is enough talent in Africa, but funding remains the weakest link, which stands at 1/10th of the international average” he said.
Other panellists discussed the importance of government support to unleash the potential of Arab youth. At the Policy and Transformational Reform session, Alejandro Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa, Practice Manager at the IFC, launched a white paper highlighting the importance of creating an enabling environment to foster transformational entrepreneurs to catalyse growth.
Dr. Shehab Marzban, Senior Advisor for Economic Affairs to the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, confirmed that the government has been taking great strides towards crafting this enabling ecosystem, by actively participating in the funding and mentorship process of young entrepreneurs. Egypt launched its first government-led accelerator “Falak Startups” in alliance with EFG-Hermes from the private sector, which, in one year, invested in over 50 new companies
Government representatives like Emma Wade Smith, the UK government\’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, confirmed their commitment to partner countries with funds and knowledge transfer to help Africa on its journey towards economic prosperity.
He reflected on the UK’s investment into the StartEgypt initiative, which was in conjunction with the IFC with a value of EGP 47 million.

H.E. President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda said “We are not doing the youth a favor at the end. They allow growth to our continent and we need to encourage them and work closely with them.”

About Africa 2018 Forum

The Africa 2018 Forum is an international, landmark event hosted under the High Patronage of H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, aiming to promote greater economic integration through increased investment flows into Africa.

This year’s edition took place from the 8-9 of December 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and was organised by the Government of Egypt – through the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation – and COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA). For more information visit the website
https://www.businessforafricaforum.com/

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