Photograph — Pan-African visions

The third edition of the Africa Forum is set to hold later this week from the 8th – 9th of December in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Africa 2018 Forum will host both government and private sector representatives from across the continent. The forum fosters greater regional integration through investments and cross-border collaboration. Nine heads of State are expected at the Forum this year. The Forum this year will put a strong emphasis on youth and women with a day dedicated to entrepreneurship and also a gathering of women empowering Africa.

Speaking on the Forum, the minister Dr. Sahar Nasr, whose ministry is hosting the event, emphasized the role of the youth to transform the economies: “our country has undergone many reforms to create a more conducive market for investment and to make it easier to conduct business. As a result, we’ve seen an upswing in investments. As much as we like seeing large-scale investments what gives me the most satisfaction is the entrepreneurial spirit of our youth. In many ways, they are at the center of all our policy reforms.”

Egypt, one of Africa’s largest economies, is projected to see economic growth increase to a little under 6% in 2019. It is home to some of Africa’s largest companies, and many of them have increased their investments outside their borders.

Encouraging intra-African investments and cross-border collaboration were cited as two key pillars of the Forum. Earlier this year, the African Development Bank released a report citing that intra-African greenfield investments reached $10bn in 2016, up from $4bn a decade earlier. And according to Heba Salama, CEO of COMESA Regional Investment Agency, who are also co-hosts of the Forum, by bringing the continent’s leading business people and getting them to co-invest will only generate more economic activity between the regions and greater regional integration: “There are no stronger ties that bind two countries together than economic ones. And history has shown that no-one will invest in the continent until we start to do so ourselves. Our role at COMESA RIA is to encourage greater intra-African investments and embolden our captains of industry to explore beyond their borders.”

Some of Africa’s leading industrialists will also be speaking in the Forum, with this year’s edition set to host the largest exhibition of African Investment Promotion Agencies. Two days later in Cairo, Egypt will also host the Intra-African Trade Fair, thus hosting two of the continent’s biggest meetings of private sector leaders to confirm the catalytic role it is playing in Africa. Next year, in 2019, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi will take over the chairmanship of the AU.

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