Africa: navigate the new realities

16th November 2022 13:00 – 14:30

19th New Africa Business Development Forum

With a special focus on the private sector, women and youth, this 19th edition of the New Africa Business Development Forum (NABDF) aims to provide a platform for Business and economic cooperation. The NABDF celebrates its 19th anniversary this year: 19 years at the service of a better integrated and more prosperous Africa. Over the years, the event has brought together Africans, Mediterraneans and Europeans, from here and elsewhere, who all share the conviction of the economic development of the continent.

The NABDF is a space for sharing and exchange aimed at assessing the impact of the crisis on African economies in the sub-regions and coming out with recommendations for economic recovery and a more resilient post-COVID Africa.

These informative and interactive sessions will offer direct contact with the prime movers of the infrastructure sector across various spheres, such as government, policymakers, industry leaders, academia and future investors, to explore new potential areas for financial assistance, as well as access to finance to the infrastructure players.


Africa’s path to the future has never been clearer: boost economic integration, invest in infrastructure, improve health and education, and strengthen governance in general.

This agenda will increase productivity in all sectors, including agriculture, which remains the largest employer on the continent, and could spur a boom in private sector investment in manufacturing. It will also create the jobs that Africa needs to reduce unemployment. Africa must be united, with the ultimate goal of building a prosperous continental economy based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, an economy that supports and timulatesentrepreneurship and wealth creation. In this same spirit it is up to us to conduct future negotiations on equally important issues, such as the conditions for healthy competition, respect for intellectual property and investment promotion. Only then can we give Africa a unique commercial voice. Africa is a huge and diverse continent that cannot be described with a single and unique narrative, as the gap between the richest countries and the poorest is substantial. Despite the differences, there are also common concerns. For example, political risk still contaminates states and internal and crossborder conflicts affect dozens of them.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which was signed by 54 African countries, aims to double intra-African trade by 2035. Currently at 18%, intra-continental trade is relatively low compared to America’s 47%, Asia’s 61%, Europe’s 67% and Oceania’s 7%. In this sense, the African continent faces several challenges, such as low levels of trade specialisations, small economies, fragmented markets and lack of industrial capacity. In order to face this, the agreement includes a single set of rules to be adopted by each member with the objective to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market.

Consequently, the AfCFTA is set to become the world’s largest free trade area, with a single market that straddles economies with a combined GDP of $3 trillion. It is beyond argument that the continent needs a network of logistics infrastructure to drive intra-continental trade.

Great economic opportunities are waiting to be unlocked in Africa. However, from global trade wars to poor infrastructure, Africa’s economy is struggling to keep pace. Investors must see themselves as stakeholders in Africa, just as Africa must grasp the opportunity to become a stakeholder in the global economy. There is a positive course for Africans and African businesses to chart by 2050, but it will be up to Europe and the Mediterranean region to capitalise on the opportunity.

In Africa we must create wealth and contribute to the common good by strengthening the social fabric in a sustainable way that respects human dignity and nature. It is known that one flower does not make spring, but a hundred flowers in full bloom make spring breathe everywhere. Perhaps the African spring is yet to come.

Everyone believes that Africa is the next centre of the world. But the most important thing is that Africans also believe it. Africa must trust Africa, especially their youth and women, to face the upcoming challenges.

Key words

African integration, industralisation, women, SMEs, investors, young entrepreneurship, trade

Mondher Khanfir

Governance and Public Policy Advisor, Head of Tunisia Africa Business Council Think Tank

H.E. Yehia el Wathik

First Undersecretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry – Head of Egyptian Commercial Services

Ioannis Vardakastanis

President, EESC Euromed Follow-Up Committee

Shamira Lukomwa

Strategic Partnerships Manager, The African Visionary Fund

Gemma Aubarell

Head of the Mediterranean Service and European Networks, General Directorate of External Action, Department of External Action and the European Union

Dalia Tadros

Assistant Minister for Technical Affairs and Follow Up, Ministry of Public Business Sector

Hugue Nkoutchou

Founder & Head , Public Policy in Africa Initiative

African economies have recorded a solid annual growth rate over the past few decades. This economic growth, although having made it possible to transform societies and promote the development of populations, is however insufficient to reduce unemployment and poverty.

After all, growth must create jobs, which is one of the main development priorities. And nowadays it is undeniable that these jobs prospects will increasingly come from the private sector. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the African private sector to foster the promotion of women and the breaking of the glass ceiling, as well as the reduction of professional inequalities. The role of government agencies in public-private cooperation is to reduce the tax burden to support enterprises.

Creating effective conditions for networking is key for African private actors in favour of the integration of Africa. In this sense, both the AfCFTA and the reorganisation of global value chains caused by the pandemic could foster the continent’s productive transformation.

Digital transformation in Africa is already well underway and can be a powerful lever to accelerate both productive transformation and continental integration.

It is up to the States to improve the business environment to enable the private sector to generate this job-creating growth.

Some of the topics tackled will be:

  • the industralisation of Africa
  • Africa women beyond borders and walls
  • SMEs and investors
  • young entrepreneurship to transform Africa
  • business opportunities in the new AfCFTA


  • What are the key challenges and instruments for Africa’s private sector when it comes to business development and investments?
  • What are the priority areas for accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA?
  • Public – Private: Thinking and acting together to achieve African integration
  • How can we take full advantage of the digital momentum in Africa to accelerate the transition to modern food supply chains – that will in turn create more stable jobs?
  • How can public and private stakeholders better bridge the spatial and social gaps in how the benefits of digital innovation i4s spread out today?
  • An integrated framework to support diaspora investment
  • What sources of financing are available for the private sector in Africa, and how to diversify them?
  • When will the general industrialisation of African countries begin?
  • What is it needed to unlock financing for projects led by women?
  • How can Africa “harness the trust of young people”?
  • What sectors comprise a new horizon for African economies?

Co-organised in partnership with:

Salvador Illa

Ministry of Health, Government of Spain (Special Guest Speaker)

Enric Mayolas

Consulting Director, World Health Management (Moderator)

Gonzalo Fanjul

Policy Director, Institut Salut Global

Chakib Abouzaid

Secretary General, General Arab Insurance Federation

Salvador Illa

Ministry of Health, Government of Spain (Special Guest Speaker)

Enric Mayolas

Consulting Director, World Health Management (Moderator)

Gonzalo Fanjul

Policy Director, Institut Salut Global

Chakib Abouzaid

Secretary General, General Arab Insurance Federation

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