African Leadership Magazine held a two-day conference last week that explored doing business and investment opportunities in Africa.
The Atlanta-based event brought together a host of influencers that talked about everything from deal-making to foreign direct investment. The roster included dignitaries, policy makers, startup founders, business leaders, and corporate executives.
The exciting lineup comprised Hon. Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray, Minister of Mines & Mineral Resources Sierra Leone; Elliott Paige, director of air service development at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Tiwa Works, founder at PlugATL; and Kunbi Tinuoye, founder and CEO of UrbanGeekz, among others.
Africa is the final frontier for investment, advancement, and innovation, according to many of the speakers. “Africa doesn’t need handouts, it needs partnership, expertise, and capital,” Dr. Kingsley Fletcher said during his talk on Africa’s Biggest Opportunities.
The continent has the potential for growth in everything from retail, tourism, food and agri-processing, renewable energy, and technological innovation. Still, panelist Tiwa Works says African countries need better infrastructure to realize their full potential. The Nigerian-American also said investment in tourism and recycling could take the continent to the next level.
On the Health panel, Hon. Blandford, Dr. Binder and Peter Paye from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said qualified professionals are in demand, especially in sectors such as healthcare.
Innovation will lead to Africa’s success story. Not only can the continent count on generating creative partnerships as its best strategy, but also supporting startups and small businesses. For example, when Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria last year it gave the country’s (and Africa’s) tech startups a real boost. This was the Facebook founder’s first visit to sub-Saharan Africa.
UrbanGeekz’s chief executive, Kunbi Tinuoye, talked about the need for online news platforms to cover stories from a global perspective, especially with the growth of digital connectivity. “It’s essential for us not to just cover stories coming out of the United States but technological innovation in Africa and Latin America,” she said during her presentation.
Africa is not a continent stuck in the past, and some speakers expressed the sentiment that the U.S. education does a bad job of supporting this fact. The curriculum needs a better representation of global issues and historical events, echoed the speakers. This misconception is also supported by the fact that only a fraction of Americans have passports or travel overseas. Because people can believe that perception is a reality, there is a major need to change the Africa narrative.
Still, there was just one more idea that the speakers believe is crucial to Africa’s future. That’s getting African’s on the diaspora to return to the motherland to utilize their skills and knowledge to advance the continent.
African Leadership Magazine partnered with the Ghana International Chamber of Commerce and Atlanta International Business Consultant for the event.