His Highness Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network opened day two of the Africa 2016 Forum with a keynote address that highlighted the African opportunity as well as the need to build layers of trust. “My enthusiasm today is especially strong because of the message which is at the heart of this Forum. And that message is, quite simply, that Africa’s moment has come,” he said before adding that [we need to “address a problem that has long plagued the human race. I refer to the fear we so often have that our environment will be controlled by others – to the point where we distance ourselves from potential worthy partners…A difference that can lead to fragmentation of society.”
During a frank interview-style debate, Carlos Lopes noted that the Africa Rising story is not an African construct but a foreign narrative based on a few successful trends that do not take into account the lack of transformation of Africa’s economies. He stated that Africans have to concentrate on what matters and what matters is structural transformation, what he calls growth with quality. And this transformation required concentrating on two pillars which were improving agricultural productivity and building manufacturing capacity as well as growing the formal economy and tax base
Throughout the Forum, it was agreed that Africa’s long-term success is underpinned by strong demographics, rapid urbanisation and the digital revolution. But if there is an opportunity it is because there is a lot to do. And that this responsibility and leadership to change the continent is no longer about heads of state alone. This leadership in Africa is widespread and is not just about a few individuals: it includes the private sector, civil society, individuals in academia, as well as innovators.
The Africa 2016 Forum, the first Africa to Africa business and investment forum was attended by 1,800 participants from public and private sector. Six African heads of State were present as well as a number of special guests including Cheikh Modibo Diarra, former Prime Minister of Mali, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Dr Benedict Oramah, President of the Afreximbank.