In marking this year’s edition of the Africa Business Conference –the 20th hosting since inception in 1998, members of the Africa Business Club at the Harvard Business School, between March 2nd and March 4th, 2018, played host to well over 1,000 passionate students and professionals from across the globe to discuss and debate important topics on business in Africa.

This time, the annual conference which remained the world’s largest student-run event focusing on business in Africa was held at the Harvard Business School Campus in Boston, MA. The theme of the event tagged “Values and Value Chains: Africa in a New Global Era” centered on the incredible opportunities and developments happening in Africa.  

Discussing on the theme, preeminent keynote speakers, expert panelists, and conference delegates hammered on the need for Africans to design support schemes for promising African entrepreneurs through grants and expert coaching in a way to further grow Africa’s economy. In a bid to set the pace, a brief Venture Competition and a Startup Lab was organized during the conference to experiment on the suggested concept.  

For the 20th anniversary, the conference exhaustively focused on the incredible opportunities and developments happening in Africa while setting aside time to expatiate exclusively on how individuals, businesses, and the continent at large engage within the larger global ecosystem.   

Following the narrative of business as it evolves in Africa; the conference revealed how the global landscape is changing at a seemingly more rapid pace than ever before, hence emphasizing why so much pressure has been noticed in recent times all around Africa.

With Africa’s rich history, resources, values, and institutions, it was reiterated across board why stakeholders, government officials and business persons must rally in support of growth and noticeable development to provide a global dialogue with unique perspectives and ideas that contribute towards making the continent and the world a better, more inclusive, place.

On the floor of the event, it was noted however that much of the existing conversations around Africa’s current and growing economic prowess over-emphasizes its resource potential of a large and growing middle class of consumers which only translate into a passive receptacle to whom globalization can be “brought to” or “done to.” 

In addition, the conference also featured discussions that focused on Africa’s potential as a hub for secondary and tertiary industries. The deliberation pointed out Africa’s record of low entrenched technologies or distribution channels or legacy infrastructure and how this must not be totally considered as a disadvantage. It recommends, instead, that this seeming shortage should sufficiently spur Africans to be more creative as they constantly think about sustainable solutions that address the continent and the world’s ever-growing needs.


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