Hogan Lovells Africa Forum brings Energy, Innovation, Infrastructure, and Investment into Focus
Global law firm, Hogan Lovells, hosted its fourth Annual Africa Forum on Wednesday, with presentations, panel discussions, and debates over the future of the continent and its changing role – and its opportunities – in the global economy. Over 230 delegates attended a daylong programme at the Merchant Taylors Hall, and participated in wide-ranging and passionate debates around theme "Africa Stand Up".
Asked to share their "Vision 2025", delegates agreed that, the greatest immediate opportunity lies with infrastructure, cited by 63% of delegates, polled as the sector most likely to attract investment over the next eight years, followed by energy and power (21%).
A common discussion thread throughout the Forum, centered on the challenges still to be overcome. Delegates were split in their opinion of the biggest challenge to growth in Africa, with 41% each citing uncertainty and corruption. Government policies were cited as the greatest barrier to intra-Africa trade (38%), with market penetration/ accessibility and lack of knowledge/understanding of regional markets, coming in joint second at 25% each. Political risk was considered the greatest challenge faced by private sector investors in African infrastructure projects, by 44% of delegates polled.
Development Banks were voted to have the biggest role to play, in developing these infrastructure projects (41%), followed by African National Governments and private investors, with 24% each of the vote. In contrast, regional trade blocs were seen as most key to facilitating intra-Africa trade by 55% of delegates, however, most surprisingly, none of the delegates considered these trade blocs to be 'working' to full effect currently.
The Forum attracted mainly C-suite Executives and General Counsel, representing the African legal, financial, energy, and investment industries. Guest speakers included Ken Olisa, current Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, and one of the UK’s most successful black businessmen; Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO, Trade and Development Bank; Adebola Williams, CEO of Red Media Africa; Lucy Quist, CEO of Airtel Ghana; and Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of BitPesa, among others from: Quantum Power, Ecobank, CDC Group, Standard Chartered Bank, WEF, Botswana Diamonds, Anglo American, Cornish Lithium, Rand Merchant Bank, African Export-Import Bank, and Citigroup.
Panel presentations were followed by lively discussion among participants and attendees. Each session was complimented by shorter “straight talk” presentations, in which leading African thinkers briefly discussed what Africa Stand Up means to them, and a CEO Corner, where influential business leaders gave their thoughts on Africa’s future.
Four ‘breakout’ sessions: “Unlocking Exponential Growth in Energy and Infrastructure Deployment”; “The Role of Innovation in Africa's Resurgence: Panacea or Pandora's box?”; "A New Era for Mining in Africa: Securing Growth for the Future"; and "Intra-African trade: A New Age of Opportunity" proved popular and provided valuable insights.
Commenting on the Forum, Hogan Lovells partner and Head of Africa, Andrew Skipper, said:
"Once again our Africa Forum has brought together, leading influencers to debate key themes for the continent. It has been a great success, and we leave in no doubt about the positive energy driving progress and change across the continent, and filled with confidence that with the right approach and investment, the continent will see sustainable growth. We see great opportunity throughout Africa, and that was reinforced today by the enthusiasm and passion of all of the Forum’s attendees."