On February 3, 2018, the Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Georgetown McDonough School of Business hosted the third annual Georgetown Africa Business Conference (GTABC). The conference, a student-led initiative, aims to generate dialogue about business in Africa by engaging with a network of professionals and students who are passionate about economic growth and doing better business in the African continent. The conference, which was first launched by a Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) student in 2015, inspired us to think more deeply about the role of the private sector to promote sustainable economic growth and human development for present and future generations on the continent.
This year the conference brought together over 500 entrepreneurs, politicians and students. Breakout session covered topics ranging from “Building Local Talent,” to “Digital Financing and Banking.” The inaugural “Lightning Round,” was introduced, which was a series of short, dynamic talks about pertinent issues affecting the African value chain, by passionate individuals who are changing the world of business. We also held our annual pitch competition, which showcased savvy, disruptive business ideas. Doksta, a cutting-edge mobile platform that helps make difficult medical concepts easy to master for Nigerian medical students was announced as winner.
As H.E. Dr. Abubakar Bukola, President of Nigeria’s Senate and keynote speaker, expressed the African population of 1.3 billion is expected to double by 2050. That in itself is an opportunity for the continent to use the momentum of political and social transformation it has been experiencing to create environments conducive for business and investments. As he explained, the 52nd Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank Group indicated that “Africa needs to push for accelerated development by harnessing local resources to boost entrepreneurship and drive its industrialization.” As such, it is imperative that Africa develops intentional mechanisms to harness local resources and talent to boost entrepreneurship and drive its industrialization. Consequently, the realization of these goals will require that political leaders on the continent develop policies and strategies that are favorable to business investments and expansion.
The Georgetown Africa Business Conference was made possible as a result of the hard work of the GTABC 2018 committee, which included Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng, MSFS Africa Scholar 2016 and co-chair of the conference. Kwabena’s involvement in the conference comes from wanting to change the view of Africa from being aid dependent to being a viable business partner. A special thank you also goes out to our volunteers, many of whom were from the Master of Science in Foreign Service program.
Nakshidil Sadien (MSFS ‘19) is the President of Hoya Circles, Georgetown’s first multicultural graduate student organization, and the fundraising lead for GTABC.