The Concordia Africa Initiative is intended to provide a platform for cross-sector leaders to share strategies and priorities for African economic growth, to promote innovative cross-sector and public-private partnerships in Africa, and to build connections and identify opportunities to create lasting prosperity on a rapidly-changing and demographically-growing continent. The initiative will be shaped and driven by local stakeholders in order to build sustainable and scalable alliances among the government, private sector, and civil society.
Concordia Africa was officially launched at the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit in New York, where our programming served as a framework to guide evolving discussions around the African continent and foster a community of partnership-oriented stakeholders. Speakers at the summit included President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, and Strategic Dialogue sessions included discussions on youth employment and entrepreneurship, and financial inclusion, technology, and data analysis. Finally, Concordia awarded its 2018 Leadership Award to two remarkable African leaders: Her Excellency Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia, and Strive Masiyiwa, Founder & Executive Chairman of Econet Wireless.
The next iteration for Concordia Africa is a day-long summit in London on February 28, 2019, which will build on the discussions that took place at the 2018 Annual Summit and seek to use the platform to strengthen and expand the community of stakeholders involved in the initiative.
A continent of tremendous population growth and a burgeoning youth demographic, leaders across Africa face a complex challenge: how can they ensure the needs, agency, and dignity of young people are being prioritized and collaboratively supported by the private sector, public sector, and other organizations across the continent? Africans are grappling with difficult questions, such as how to technically train young professionals for rapidly-changing industries, how to create meaningful jobs, and how to lighten the obstacles towards paths in entrepreneurship and enterprise. Within this is the imperative to improve affordability and access to quality education and training. These challenges will require enabling disruptive solutions, supporting necessity-driven entrepreneurship, utilizing sound regulatory policy, and a willingness to question conventional models. Prioritizing youth employment and entrepreneurship will unlock major economic growth on the continent, but transcending siloes and promoting broader regional integration across organizational, sectoral, and national lines will be vital to success.
With increasing digitalization of services, significant innovation from the telecommunications sector, and access to abundant resources, Africa is undergoing a technological transformation. From basic priorities like promoting greater internet access to complex challenges like pushing telecommunications companies, banks, infrastructure operators, and governments to work collaboratively to improve affordability, this transformation poses both challenges and opportunities for financial inclusion across the continent. Further, it raises the critical question of how regulatory frameworks across the continent can be improved and harmonized to better support the multiple dimensions of financial inclusion—such as payments, credit, savings, and insurance—and steer technological innovation in the right direction.
Over the last several decades, the economic rise of Asia has led to significant new trade and foreign investment opportunities for African countries. While sources of international development assistance remain important for the continent, the emerging engagement from countries like China, Japan, India, South Korea, and Singapore has greatly altered the development environment in Africa, as Asian countries and companies invest in infrastructure projects, skills and technological development, and trade with African countries. As foreign financing of African nations becomes increasingly more competitive with western multi-laterals, it’s important to document and assess best practices to ensure African development priorities align with sustainable economic development.