Feature Article of Mon, 20 Mar 20172

The Africa CEO Forum needs rethinking

Africa Ceo Forum File photo

I am still straggling to hypothesize a reason that might have informed the decision to host the Africa CEOs forum in Geneva–Switzerland.

On the 20th and 21st of March, 2017, over one thousand African business leaders, investors, and political leaders will come together in a conference and high-powered round table under the theme “Re-thinking Africa’s Business model”. Prominent among the five objectives of the forum listed in the event’s website is “to promote African companies to Africa and the International community”. Great idea.

However, the organizers of the even led by their CEO Mr. Amir Ben Yahmed choose to host the event in Geneva-Switzerland. This has left me wondering what exactly went into the decision to rob Africa of such a gargantuan business opportunity that is designed actually to “re-think Africa’s business model”. What does such an event got to do with Geneva? Couldn’t we have held this event in Dakar, Abidjan, Accra or Abuja in West Africa? Or Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Nairobi or Kigali in East Africa? What about Luanda, Johannesburg, Lusaka or Harare in Southern Africa? Or Algiers, Casablanca, Khartoum, Cairo, or Tunis in North Africa. No need to mention our lovely cities in Central Africa. Clearly we are not running a deficit of cities. This is why I still can’t figure out the reason for such a decision.

Over one thousand people attending an event in one city is not such a bad business opportunity to let go. They will at least need one thousand beds to sleep in, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for one thousand people for at least the two days the event will be running. Some of them will visit tourist sites and recreational centers. This will definitely bring big opportunities to the African businesses in that African city. The objective of promoting African companies to Africa will also be realized better if this was done in an African city.

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Some of the objectives of the event is to offer African businesses the opportunity to “Find new financial partners”, and to “learn from best practices of fast-growing companies”. I think holding this in an African city would have offered young African entrepreneurs opportunity to participate and actually bring about the realization of these objectives.

But we have decided to send this to a European city, taking with it all the business opportunities. What is more, African political and business leaders will be living their home countries with Dollars, Euro, or at least the Swiss Franc to able them spend in Geneva. This will further put pressure on our already suffering currencies.

Why are we doing this to ourselves. How many Africans will actually hear about this event? And How Will African businesses be introduced to Africa in Europe? Clearly, we need to Re-think the Africa CEOs forum.

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