By Julia Embry
New York — Forum hosted by the Initiative for Global Development brings together leading African and international CEOs, senior executives, and investors to discuss investing in Africa
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) convened its eleventh Frontier 100 Forum today, bringing together CEOs and senior executives from top corporations around the world. The Forum’s theme, “Africa: Innovative Investing in Emerging Markets,”highlights the global importance of Africa as a destination for investment. This biannual forum attracts top investors of all types to discuss critical topics and to facilitate strategic connections between CEOs and investors.
The statistics speak for themselves – there are over 1 billion people in Africa, 20% of whom are under 24; there are over 60 million smartphone users, and 29 stock exchanges. Africa is without doubt open for business. Still, it is true that Africa faces numerous challenges in drawing foreign investment, among them immediate concerns such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, as well as long-term infrastructure challenges. The Frontier 100 Forum is an invaluable platform for businesses and investors to share their experiences in overcoming challenges and turning their focus to the potential benefits of investment on the continent.
Discussions will center on the different forms of investment available in Africa, from private equity, to debt, to impact investing. Experts will discuss the continent’s economic demographics and the implications of these rapid changes on the business environment. Conversations will also revolve around innovations in technology among different sectors, notably agriculture, where their effective use has led to increased efficiencies and profitability in agricultural value chains. There will be strategic discussions on investing in all high-need and high-potential African industries, including: agriculture, ICT, financial services, and infrastructure and power. The group meetings will also address cross cutting themes such as business impact measurement and how the private sector can help solve the skills gap on the continent.
“There are two Frontier 100 Forums every year, one in Africa preceding the World Economic Forum and one in New York City. Investment is always the focus of our Frontier 100 Forum in New York,”said Mima Nedelcovych, IGD’s President & CEO. “This year, the Frontier 100 Forum is adding a special emphasis on the non-traditional and innovative investors, new to the emerging African markets.”
“The role of IGD in Africa is a very serious one. There is a thin line between competition and collaboration that is not usually seen. Therefore, having a platform for companies who may be competitors outside to come together, share experiences and identify areas of synergy and collaboration is important,” said Farouk Gumel, a Frontier 100 Leader and Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria. Through its Frontier 100 Forums, IGD brings together corporate leaders to explore partnerships, discuss important topics on the economics of Africa and to address mutual challenges, all to enhance the impact of their investment on the continent.
Specially this year, the Frontier 100 African business delegation will visit Washington, DC for meetings with representatives from the Department of Commerce, Millennium Challenge Corporation, U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and a luncheon hosted by former US ambassador to Africa Donald Gips on the road map for further investment in Africa after the recent success of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.