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Diasporian News of Friday, 23 March 2018

Source: Maame Agyeiwaa Agyei

African leaders must accelerate investment in disruptive technologies - Fred Maury

The Editorial Director for Africa CEO Forum, Fred Maury has urged African leaders to accelerate investment in disruptive technologies to enable them transform the lives of their people.

Disruptive technologies are those technologies that displace an established technology and shake up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.

Mr Maury made this known in an interview with the Independent newspaper ahead of the six edition of the AFRICA CEO Forum to be held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 26-27 March, 2018. It is organized by Jeune Afrique Media Group, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specializing in organizing events that promote business.

The upcoming forum is being co-hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.

Elaborating on the rationale behind the focus of this year's forum on disruptive technologies, Mr Maury noted that disruptive technologies has become part of life and African countries must take advantage of it to create jobs for the youth.

He continued that disruptive technology is changing rapidly and Africa as a whole has to accelerate catch up hence the need to discuss how it could be done.

According to him, Africa is not isolated from the world and the global technology revolution will have impact in Africa thus the need to raise the issue, its impact on employment, among others.

Mr. Maury stated disruptive technologies will definitely have an impact in the industrialization strategy of African countries.

“This because you can’t have industrialization strategy in Africa and say this will create many jobs which will definitely not be the case anymore like it was before because there are less and less workers in the industry structure and will be replaced by robots", he stressed. Mr Maury observed that the technology revolution is spreading in all the sectors, finance, agricultural, health and education. But most of the sectors in Africa are not developed and are still lacking behind compare to other places in the world.

So, this technology revolution is a great opportunity for African countries and industries to ensure growth, he told the newspaper.

“We think by this way it is a possibility to have more and more employment in those service sectors.”

Four heads of state to attend

Meanwhile, the forum will be graced by four Heads of state namely, the host country’s President Alhassane Ouattara, President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Liberia’s George Oppong Weah, and the Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The two new Presidents of Liberia and Zimbabwe are making their debut appearance which will afford them the opportunity to reach out to over one thousand, investors and to showcase their investment strategies to the world at large.

Mr. Weah who is poised to Improve the business climate, upgrading basic infrastructure, restructuring health and education systems, flagship measures for young people, especially through sport of Liberia during his tenure will have the platform to share his strategy for laying the groundwork for Liberia’s economic transformation with over 1,200 business leaders, investors and decision-makers.

President Mnangagwa who has onus to re-engage his country to the rest of the world due to the over decade of living in isolation resulting from economic sanctions will be afforded the opportunity to elaborate on his country's economic potential to the international investor and business community at the AFRICA CEO FORUM.

He will share his vision for Zimbabwe's economic recovery before an audience of more than 1,200 business leaders, international investors and policy makers.

Speaking to this reporter in a Skype interview, the Editorial Director of the Africa CEO Forum, said President Akufo-Addo would make his second appearance at the event in Abidjan.

Last year during the 5th edition of the forum which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, President Akufo-Addo mounted the stage to engage in a Presidential panel discussion with President MackySall of Senegal.

At this year's forum, besides President Akufo-Addo’s panel discussion with the CEO of Unilever, Ghana will participate in a section called “Doing Business in Ghana section” where officials from the country will present investment opportunities to African and global investors.

Why Africa CEO Forum is sometimes held in Switzerland

Mr Maury used the opportunity to explain why the event is sometimes held in Geneva, Switzerland although it is an African event.

He however debunked the notion that there was a special links between the Swiss government and the event organizers though such a big forum could not be done without collaboration with authorities.

Mr Maury was quick to add that when Jeune Afrique, the event organizers launched the maiden edition, it was a new project for them so they opted for Europe because it was more simple to organise it. Notwithstanding organizers have been rotating the forum in Africa and Switzerland.

But the event in Switzerland is mainly intended to reach out to the global community what Africa have and it is not only Europe, Asia and America.“It is important to show them that there is a vibrant African private sector with dynamic skills”. “Why we chose Geneva and not London or Paris because Geneva is a natural place, it’s not Francophone, it’s not Anglophone and it can boast of international institutions like World Health Organization, the United Nations so it makes sense for us to do it there", he noted.

He indicated that, the organizers have a good relationship with the Swiss government but not any special favours. “You can’t organise such a big forum without the support of government.

What qualifies a country to host CEO Forum?

The Editorial Director for the forum explaining why it has never been held in an Anglophone African country said, the organizers do not have any problems with English speaking Africa so measures are being put in place towards that.

He intimated that, to be qualified to host the prestigious CEO’s forum, the country has to be dynamic, and where the people want to come.

Logistical issues too are considered when choosing the host country which is important for an event where there are international hotels with high level conference centre which most African countries lack.