Many African countries have enjoyed a distinct improvement of framework conditions. Africa is home to six of the world's ten fastest-growing economies. The continent as a whole has reported a threefold increase in its economic performance since 2000.
The opportunities that this trend can bring for investors were the main topic of the "Africa Finance and Investment Forum 2014" (AFIF), which took place at DEG headquarters in Cologne in early June. The conference specifically addressed policy and business decision makers. Around 200 participants from more than 40 countries took part in the plenary and panel sessions, B2B sessions and networking events.
Entrepreneurial initiatives for progress and development
"Africa is brimming with potential. I can only advise investors to come to Africa to do business," emphasised Monty Jones, President of the network EMRC International, which organised the Forum for the seventh time already. Together with Bruno Wenn, Chairman of DEG's Management Board, and Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), he officially opened the two-day event. "We need the private sector to shape a successful and sustainable development," said Parliamentary State Secretary Silberhorn. He further stated that for this reason the BMZ supported entrepreneurial initiatives in the partner countries. But in his opinion it is also a question of encouraging German enterprises to invest in Africa. DEG takes the same approach. "We want to increase German investors' interest in Africa as an investment location," said Bruno Wenn. That was also one of the reasons why DEG agreed to host the 2014 AFIF edition.
Challenges and perspectives
Increasing the access to financial services was one of the main subjects of AFIF 2014. Next to Bruno Wenn, André Laude, Chief Investment Officer of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group; Heike Rüttgers, Head of Division at the European Investment Bank (EIB); Luiz Eduardo Melin, Managing Director at the Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES) and Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), spoke on the challenges associated with developing an efficient financial sector in Africa.
Another focus of the conference was on strengthening trade relations between the African countries and on expanding trade with Europe. The participants also exchanged views on financing options for African agribusiness and on a sustainable development of the sector.
Magloire N’ Dakon from the Ivory Coast is an entrepreneur who already contributes to stimulating his country's economy. His financial consultancy firm "Extend Finance" helps companies develop business plans or establishes contacts with investors and regional banks, to give but a few examples. On the occasion of AFIF 2014, Magloire N’ Dakon was honoured with the "EMRC Project Incubator Award" that acknowledges innovative ideas created by small and medium-sized enterprises from sub-Saharan Africa.
"African Economic Outlook 2014"
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On the fringes of the conference, the "African Economic Outlook 2014" was presented for the first time in Germany. In the report, the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme provide a forecast on development trends in Africa as a whole and in the continent’s 54 countries, while highlighting the opportunities arising for Africa from a greater involvement in global trade and value chains.
For more information, see here.