At this year’s Annual Debate, we explored the theme of ‘Investing in Africa Through Global Uncertainty’. With volatility on the rise and global trade under pressure from national protectionism, Africa offers an attractive alternative to investors. Elisabeth Waelbroeck-Rocha, Chief International Economist at IHS Markit, opened the day by highlighting that, in uncertain times, the market will pay a premium for growth. On the back of this, the continent has shown remarkable resilience over the last year. Talk of the potential of opening individual markets, such as Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Angola, has now been overtaken by discussions about how Africa will position itself on the global stage.
With diverse speakers from 15 countries, the drive for a unified vision for Africa stood out throughout our 10 sessions. Across panels on investment, industry, energy, capital markets, technology and private equity, delegates heard from businesses leading the way on innovation and integration. Whether that be by developing technological solutions to pan-African challenges, building one capital market or delivering the Intra-African Trade Fair 2020.
In the context of the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, and H.E. Faure Gnassingbé, President of the Republic of Togo, demonstrated the commitment of both the public and private sectors to make a success of the implementation process. For the first time, Invest Africa partnered with the Government of Togo to support investment into their new National Development Plan (PND). Once again, The Annual Debate brought stakeholders from government and the private sector together to discuss how to better collaboratively drive innovation and progress. In tech that may mean innovation hubs and tech-driven public projects, in industry that may mean investing in infrastructure and logistics, and for investors that may mean stability and predictability.
Assembling 350 delegates from across 12 sectors, The Annual Debate continues to grow in scale and scope. We are proud to have increased the number of delegates and speakers travelling from Africa this year ensuring that The Annual Debate continues to be Africa’s leading business forum in London. Bringing African companies, such as Kobo360, Cellulant and Ecobank, into conversation with major multinationals, such as Google, Bosch and MUFG as well as policy leaders from the International Monetary Fund and the Department for International Trade stimulated solutions-oriented discussions. The day closed with a Gala Dinner in the evening, allowing informal debate to continue. Thank you to all of our speakers for their contributions, to our delegates for their participation and to our sponsors for their support.