GMT +1

Master of Ceremonies

15TH of July – Nova SBE
Welcome coffee
Opening Remarks

Investment and Internationalization: paths for Financial Development and Economic Growth

Africa has a flourishing and youthful population, abundant natural resources, and a strategic geographical location that can easily create a new global hub for attracting long term investment and boosting world trade.

In this way, Africa has a clear potential to be at the centre of renewed efforts for revitalising the global economy and for becoming a destination for the internationalisation and reinstalment of European companies. The Europe-Africa alliance should be strengthened so both continents can walk together towards a future that increases Africa’s potential but also enhances Europe’s economic capacities, always respecting both continents’ interests.

Through strategic partnerships, initiatives such as AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area), and the creation and implementation of the “ECO”, and the African Economic Forum, a new chapter of a continued long, robust, inclusive, and green growth in the continent will help to move hundreds of millions living out of poverty, while also boosting a rebound and recovery for other economies around the globe.

By reforming and improving taxation policies, and by removing administrative burdens, conditions can be elevated, dynamizing cooperation ties among African multilateral institutions whilst also deepening businesses and trade in more equitable and sustainable ways.
However, for this to become a reality, Africa needs to further open to private investment and strategic partnerships, creating attractive conditions for companies to invest resources that can bring strength and resilience to public and social institutions.

Africa has all it takes to become a massive economic player but, to achieve it, it needs to gain a more prominent role in the global economic scenario, both by attracting qualified employment within this great geography, but also by placing the best and most significant African organisations as international key players and in the core of decision making.

Networking Break
Energy & Mining: Energy Access and Natural Resource Management for Sustainable Development

Energy access and natural resource management are key issues for sustainable development in Africa. Energy is a fundamental prerequisite for economic growth, improving quality of life and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN. However, many African regions face numerous challenges in guaranteeing reliable, fair, and sustainable energy access.

Attracting global funding for climate change can be a challenge, but it is certainly an opportunity. Green investments are a capital allocation strategy that must prioritise projects and companies with environmentally responsible practices, allowing them to increase productivity, contribute to economic growth, promote innovation, achieve sustainable industrialization and attract foreign investment.

And Europe, as the first continent to invest seriously in the green transition, is for sure an unavoidable partner in this context. The expertise and the renewable energies that European countries already produce are key elements to the fight against global warming and the progressive climatic changes. Setting an ambitious agenda between Africa and Europe is essential to reach those goals. Africa will benefit from this alliance but also Europe because the answers to global challenges are more efficient if we all work together.

Thus, the African Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) is important to scale up voluntary carbon markets across the African continent. The main challenges are supply and standardisation, intermediation and financing, and the demands that these projects entail. The African continent has significant natural wealth, including minerals, ploughing and water resources.
Mining is also a significant economic activity that plays a key role in many countries on the continent. Poor governance and a lack of transparency can be serious problems in the mining industry, leading to corruption, conflicts, and human rights violations.

Europe can be a strategic partner for African countries. The green transition should be faster but needs to be mostly fair, so it does not increase social inequalities or insufficiencies.

Equity Gap: Women Entrepreneurs and Female Representation

Given that many African countries face enormous challenges in terms of economic development, access to education, health, and political representation, it is estimated that it would take around 132 years to close the gender equity gap in Africa.

The representation of women in politics in Africa varies significantly from country to country, but women are under-represented in political positions compared to men: only 22% of government positions are held by women and only 19% of public funds are generated by women. A combination of historical, legal, cultural, and political factors mean that Rwanda and South Africa are the countries in Africa where the representation of women in politics is highest.

Only 7% of top positions in the business world are held by women. The main difficulties women face are: access to finance; the level of education and empowerment of the female gender; restrictions on access to markets and networking; low literacy in matters of innovation and technology and the cultural and social heritage of the continent itself. A staggering 60% of unemployed women work in the agricultural sector, a highly vulnerable sector to economic and climate crises. One way of counteracting this reality is to encourage female entrepreneurship in areas that can have significant impact on economic growth and job creation in Africa.

But these numbers and statistics can decrease if Africa takes them as a priority. Europe has already done so and can be a trustworthy friend and partner to accelerate the mitigation of this equity gap – even though the gains and steps taken are still fragile and in need of improvement. So, if Europe and Africa join forces to decrease these numbers in both continents, they will for sure close the gap faster and accountability will also increase.

Investment in promoting gender equality goes in different and not so obvious ways, such as reforming the tax system on women’s access to education, technology, health, and other key sectors. One of the main paths to follow is access to education, for example, by investing in subsidy programs or tax exemptions for lower-income families, especially those with girls, to ensure equitable access to basic and higher education. And the same goes for technology and health. The European ability in these domains can certainly be a useful tool for Africa’s challenges.

Education: E-School Programmes to Boost Access to Primary and Superior Education

Transforming future generations by reforming Africa’s educational system is a crucial mission for the continent’s sustainable development and economic and social progress. Ensuring that all African children have equal access to a quality education is the first step.

Investing in the qualification of teachers and the creation of infrastructures is essential to offer a minimum of quality education. The school curriculum must be relevant to local needs and realities, preparing students not only for academic success, but also for life after school, and the labor market. Investing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in an interdisciplinary and applied approach, will make it possible to better prepare students and guarantee fairer and more equal access to the labour market, both at continental and international level.

In this context, European support is something to explore. The European educational systems are really modernised and developed, which can work as a source of inspiration for those countries that need to improve their own Education. But they can be more than an inspiration if both continents take their alliance to a deeper level – in general but in Education in particular.

Technology plays a significant role in transforming the educational system in Africa, promoting access to innovative and attractive educational resources, facilitating personalised learning, and expanding distance education opportunities, especially in remote areas. European technology can be shared to accelerate this transformation.
Funding is also key to guarantee equitable access to quality education. To improve the education system, African governments should prioritise public investment, allocating a sizable portion of the national budget to the sector. Partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and civil society organisations can help complement public funding and mobilise additional resources for education. On the other hand, innovative ways of financing education need to be explored.

Sports: Fostering Integration and Sustainable Development

The sports economy represents a sizable portion of the global GDP, contributing approximately 5%, yet its presence in Africa’s GDP remains comparatively low at only 0.5%. However, the untapped potential of the sports industry presents a promising avenue for economic growth and job creation across the continent.

Research indicates that a 1% increase in economic growth correlates with a 2% increase in job creation. By strategically investing in the sports sector, African nations can stimulate economic expansion while simultaneously addressing unemployment challenges.

Europe has already developed this industry, which, besides its economic value, promotes social inclusion, healthy behaviours, and urban transformations.

The sports industry holds immense potential as a catalyst for economic growth, job creation, and national development. Africa’s potential in this industry can benefit from a stronger and deeper relation with Europe.

Moreover, sports can serve as a powerful tool for diplomacy, facilitating communication, representation, and negotiation on both national and international platforms. By leveraging sports diplomacy, African nations can strengthen diplomatic ties, enhance soft power, and promote cross-cultural understanding, especially in Europe.

Additionally, sports play a vital role in celebrating national identity and cultural heritage. Sporting events serve as platforms for highlighting national pride, fostering unity, and promoting social cohesion among diverse communities. Enhancing the Europe-Africa alliance will allow both continents to benefit from the commercial value of sports extends beyond entertainment, with opportunities for revenue generation through sponsorships, broadcasting rights, merchandise sales, and tourism.

Networking Break
Digitalisation: Security, Access and Innovation in the Digital Age

The world’s digitalization as we know it has been breaking down geographical barriers between Europe and Africa. Recognizing both challenges and opportunities of digital technologies in this new age, both continents have embarked on a dynamic journey of proactive measures to enhance their integration into the global digital ecosystem.

The covid 19 pandemic has made it necessary to hasten the digital transition in education and the labour market. In these new remote models, more people have had access to quality jobs and education, thus creating a “social elevator,” serving as catalysts for the economic growth and international cooperation of both continents.

Supporting start-ups, and E-commerce is crucial for both regions to create synergies, in a scenario that enhances the growth of a dynamic digital ecosystem. This would allow young entrepreneurs and innovators to take advantage of emerging technologies, thus attracting foreign investment.

This also represents an opportunity to tackle issues like poverty, human rights, human development, equality, and inclusion issues, as well as environment and sustainability. The rise of modern technologies brings people together and induces innovation and collaboration, bringing stimulus to the labour market and widening horizons for the younger generations. Europe and Africa should look at this opportunity as a priority to stretch their relationship.

European know-how in this matter will also be fundamental to guarantee that the security issues are well-addressed from the first moment – which must be a concern that finds an answer from the beginning.

Wrap-Up & Closing Remarks

16TH of July – Nova SBE
Master of Ceremonies

Welcome coffee
Opening Remarks

Geopolitics: Challenges and Opportunities

The Euro-African Alliance is particularly important since the uncertainty in external relations caused by the continuation of the war between Russia and Ukraine and by the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in the last quarter of 2023, which are forcing these two continents to rethink their geopolitical positioning and to continue to strengthen their relations.

Europe and Africa could benefit from a strengthening of their continental alliances if we consider, in addition to these conflicts, the competitiveness between the United States and China for economic and commercial influence on both continents. This is particularly true if we also consider the growing commercial dependence on China.

In this geopolitical struggle for influence, Europe and Africa can work as reliable allies, enhancing their strategic autonomy while diversifying their external relations, turning them less dependent on just a few powerful players. It is important that the continents are not overly dependent on other countries in strategic sectors and that they can diversify their external and commercial relations. Timely strategic autonomy will avoid emergencies and therefore more costly fallback solutions. Strengthening these relations will reinforce these continents’ autonomy and Europe can be – as always – a reliable geopolitical partner.

There are also shared challenges which will benefit from greater Euro-African collaboration. These include migration from North Africa to Europe, which is the permanent – but no less important – challenge that most requires joint action between the two continents.

The growth of the African population, coupled with the enormous potential for economic growth in some countries, should lead the African continent to join endeavours to establish itself as a strategic hub. The African Union is a prime example of this and can benefit greatly from the experience of European integration, which took its pioneering step in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome.

Networking break
Health: Strengthening the Efficiency of Systems and Fostering the Qualification of the Workforce

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of countries having strong, modern, and capable health systems and services. But it has also exposed the inequalities that remain between those who have the resources to invest in healthcare and those who do not. It is therefore vital to deepen relations between Europe and Africa to reduce these inequalities and so that the African continent can benefit from the growing modernization of European healthcare systems.

Whether in health technologies, medication, or vaccines, or in the training of health professionals, Europe has enough expertise to be in a position where it can share this knowledge with African countries, thereby collaborating towards building truly empowered health systems and diversifying access to quality healthcare.

Europe is deeply committed to this need to share knowledge and experience, just as Africa recognizes the benefits of investing in closer collaboration in this field.
In an increasingly globalised world, health issues can no longer be confined to just a few territories – a fact made clear by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, opportunities such as the African Union or the African Continental Free Trade Area will be more successful if the African health systems are stronger and modern.

Infrastructures & Urbanization: The Challenges and Opportunities of the New Urban Agenda

Infrastructure development and urbanisation play crucial roles in shaping the future of Africa. With rapid population growth and urbanisation trends, the continent faces both challenges and opportunities in ensuring sustainable development and inclusive growth.

Across Africa, numerous projects and initiatives are underway to address the infrastructure deficit and promote sustainable urban development. African Union’s Agenda 2063, for instance, aims to transform Africa into a global powerhouse by investing in critical infrastructure, including transportation networks, energy systems, and digital connectivity.

This goal brings Europe and Africa closer together in addressing the challenges posed by the need to reshape urbanism and infrastructures in both geographies. Through knowledge exchange, technology transfer, and policy alignment, this partnership will contribute to taking this relation to a higher step. Statistics highlight the urgent need for infrastructure development and urban planning in Africa.

According to the World Bank, over 60% of Africa’s population resides in informal settlements, lacking access to basic services such as clean water, sanitation, and electricity.

By leveraging technology, green infrastructure, and smart city solutions, these projects aim to create vibrant and resilient urban centres that drive economic prosperity and social inclusion, as Europe has already started doing.

Through strategic partnerships, innovative projects, and inclusive policies, African nations can build the resilient, inclusive, and prosperous cities of tomorrow, ensuring a brighter future for all citizens.

Agribusiness: Public and Private Investment for Food Security

Africa stands at a decisive moment in its agricultural development, with the potential to sustainably transform its food systems and agrobusiness. Through initiatives such as AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), the continent has been focused on harnessing its agricultural potential, improving food security thus generating further economic growth.

Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) presents a unique opportunity to establish an intra-African trade in agricultural products. By unlocking trade barriers and facilitating market access, AfCTA can foster a more integrated and resilient agribusiness sector.

Europe, and the EU in particular, is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of agricultural products. Therefore, combining the African needs and the European expertise in this domain will certainly contribute to shape the future in the agricultural market.

The diversification of crops and promotion of indigenous species are key strategies for building resilient food systems. Embracing agro-biodiversity of Africa can enhance the continent’s resilience to climate change, pests, and diseases, while also preserving tradition and cultural heritage.

Promoting climate literacy among farmers is essential for building adaptability. Africa can better safeguard its agricultural systems and means of subsistence by providing knowledge and tools to farm workers, so they can better understand the impacts of climate change. The European policies in this domain have progressively considered that, so the agrobusiness is aligned with the climate policies, turning this into a business of our collective future.

Governments must strengthen agricultural policies, institutions, and governance structures to ensure effective and equitable distribution of resources and support services. By collaborating and sharing best practices, Europe and Africa can accelerate the transformation of Africa’s agribusiness sector. Together, they can unlock the continent’s agricultural potential, promote inclusive growth, and build a prosperous future for both continents.

Also, the agricultural opportunities in Africa can be opportunities for Europe to invest. If Europe invests in the modernization and empowering of the agrobusiness sector in Africa, through all value-chain, Africa can produce better and in a more competitive way. African countries can export more and better products, adding value to this sector as an economic activity.

Cultural Moment
Closing Remarks

Conversation with the Presidents