…..as top Business and Policy leaders celebrated  

Sustainable trade, enabled investments, development of ’partner not saviour’ approaches and mutually beneficial partnerships topped the agenda as leading business, political leaders, as well as policy experts, discussed strategies for resetting United States – Africa relations at the 2-day 5th US-Africa Investment Forum and Policy Dialogue which, held from 29-30th September 2020. The forum and dialogue which commenced on the 29th September with keynote speeches; panel discussions and special presentations, continued on the 30th September with more engaging panel sessions; and presentations from distinguished Africans and Americans alike.

The event with the theme: ‘US Africa Relations – A necessary Realignment’ witnessed keynote speeches by Swaziland’s Prime Minister (Eswatini) HE Rt. Hon. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini; Sierra Leone’s former President Ernest Bai Koroma; as well as presentations from General William Kip Ward, first Commander of the US Africa Command, AFRICOM; Dr Patrick Schena of the Fletcher School, Tufts University, Representative Billy Mitchel, President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators USA, among others. 

While presenting his keynote address, H.E. Bai Koroma stated that “the gap in U.S./Africa relations on trade, peace and security keeps widening, irrespective of what the public relations experts from the other end would like us to believe.”

Continuing, the former president maintained that, “the reasons for this can be difficult to discern as a whole, but as I stated earlier, understanding these reasons is critical to achieving a peaceful and prosperous Africa, which is why this forum is crucial.” He further stated that “One of the most apparent issues is that America’s perception of Africa seems to be frozen in time, with current policies simply not reflecting or retaining relevance to the contemporary realities of the continent. In view of this, ladies and gentlemen, a paradigm shift in U.S./Africa relations is imperative; realignment is a must”, he said. 

On his part, the Prime Minister of Swaziland stated that “Swaziland is encouraged by the 2019 initiative of the United States government, titled – prosper Africa.” He reiterated his government’s commitment to supporting the initiative. The Prime Minister also stated that “as Africa continues to present wide-ranging opportunities for investors from around the world, the United States, must take advantage of the opportunities.” The prime minister also added that “the opportunities in the continent still exist despite the global economic contraction predicted, due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.”

The 2-day event drew participation from over 48 countries from across the world, including the United States, the UK, Portugal, Egypt, Mauritius, Uganda, Liberia; Ghana; Nigeria; South Africa, amongst others – with an online viewership of over 20,000. There were also presentations by the first US AFRICOM Commander, General William Kip Ward, and Hon. Samuel Tweah, Liberian Minister of Finance and Development Planning. 

Discussions at the panel sessions which held on the first and the second day, with the themes – Harnessing US-Africa Economic Corporation and Investment Opportunities in Africa; and US-Africa relations in a Post-COVID-World: Migration; Youth Unemployment, and job creation respectively were very enlightening and robust. Both panel sessions hosted distinguished business and political leaders as well as development experts, including HE Lee Kinyanjui, Kenyan Governor of Nakuru County; Hon. Billy Mitchell (G.A.) President-Elect, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, USA; Mrs Rawya Mansour, Chairperson RAMSCO Group Egypt, Gary G. Whitehill, Chief Strategist Africa Beyond Aide, New York; Dr Patrick J. Schena, Professor of International Business, the Fletcher School – Tufts University; Joan Wadelton, Founder U.S. – Africa Business Bridge, Washington DC; Dee Dawkins-Haigler, Organization of World Leaders, Atlanta and public Affairs Commentator; Melaku Alebel, Ethiopian Minister of Trade and Investment; and Dr Ernest Kwamina Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana.

A key highlight of the event also was the presentation of awards to deserving Africans and winners of the African Business Leadership Awards. Some of the award recipients during the event included: 

H.E Ahmed Shide
Minister of Finance, Ethiopia
African Finance Minister of the Year Award

Hon. Samuel D. Twear, Jnr.
Liberia Minister of Finance and Development Planning
African Public Service Leadership Award

Dr Ernest Addison
Governor, Bank of Ghana
Central Bank Governor of the Year Award 

H.E. Lee Kinyanjui
Governor, Nakuru County, Kenya
Business-Friendly Governor of the Year Award

H.E. Melaku Alebel
Minister of Trade and Industry, Ethiopia
Outstanding African Business Leadership Commendation Award

Mr Mele Kyari
Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
Special African Business Leadership Commendation Award

Mr Raghav Prasad
Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mastercard
Special African Business Leadership Commendation Award

Mr Olugbenga Agboola
CEO, Flutterwave
Young Business Leader of the Year Award

Mrs Rebecca Miano
CEO, Kenyan Electricity Generating Company
African Inspirational Business Leadership Award

Mr Segun Ogunsanya 
CEO, Airtel Nigeria
African Industry Personality of the Year Award

Dr Douglas Mboweni
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Group CEO, 
Award Title: COVID-19 Response Business Hero Award

Mr Luxminarayanan Subramaniam
Group General Manager, Trade Kings Zambia
Special African Business Leadership Commendation Award

Dr Silver Mugisha
National Water and Sewerage Corporation
Special African Business Leadership Commendation Award

Akua Sarpong Ayisa
CEO, Unique Floral Limited
Award title: Africa Female Business Excellence Award

Mr Alhassan Tampuli
Chief Executive Officer
National Petroleum Authority of Ghana
Award Title: African Regulator of the Year Award

Mr Hassanein Hiridjee
CEO, Axian Group, Madagascar
Award Title: Special African Business Leadership Commendation Award
About African Leadership Magazine Group

The African Leadership magazine is published by African Leadership (U.K.) Limited, a company registered in the United Kingdom. The magazine focuses on bringing the best of Africa to a global audience, telling the African story from an African perspective; while evolving solutions to peculiar challenges being faced by the continent today.