A new optimism is coursing through Africa as steady economic growth, more effective leadership, and a rising generation of talent combine to create a host of opportunities. Many of Africa’s economies have experienced a decade of strong economic growth at rates that western countries should envy. Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies over the decade are in Africa.
Demographics are also producing opportunities in Africa. Nine of the 20 fastest growing cities in the current decade are African. Africa’s total population will reach 2 billion by 2050-20 per cent of the world’s population. While many in Africa will live in poverty, hundreds of millions will be middle class consumers.
What gives the new optimism heft is the clear-eyed realization that a commodities boom is insufficient to guarantee Africa’s future. Leadership in many of the continent’s countries are determined to lay the groundwork for a more inclusive, enduring economic and social transformation. The old norms are being abandoned and new standards are being set in governance in the public and private sectors.
Perhaps most encouragingly, a new generation of talent is emerging, finding pathways to innovation in many different fields, and eager to have a voice in determining the future path of their nations and their continent.
This new spirit is reflected in the increased interest from global investors as well as the rise of major African groups active across the continent. It is also seen in the growth of capital that can be deployed for real infrastructural needs in many countries, and the active involvement of the many African diasporas ready to return and take part in new waves of opportunity.
In this context of optimism, The New York Forum Africa will provide a unique platform for Africa’s entrepreneurs and rising business leaders to tackle problems together and engage in interactive and intensive dialogues with executives and investors from around the world. The New York Forum Africa will address the following key issues:
1. Finding the right business models
Africa contains a multitude of different business cultures, national strengths and weaknesses, and social and economic structures. Which signposts will help business leaders navigate through the complexities and uncertainties? What are the best examples of success? As Africa’s growth continues apace with hundreds of millions of new consumers entering the market in coming decades, where will the best opportunities be found?
2. Spurring innovation and entrepreneurship
There has always been a powerful strain of entrepreneurship in many African economies, often seen in the informal sectors. The last decade has witnessed an explosion of entrepreneurship around technology, agriculture, social enterprise and many other fields. What can be done to nurture and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship? Where should government aid, and where should it get out of the way?
3. Continuing the improvements in security and governance
All of the current optimism will come to naught if instability grows and governance fails. What are the real continuing concerns over security on the continent? Are there concrete improvements in both public and private sector governance?