A total of 1,180 delegates attended the 5th EU-Africa Business Forum, which marked an important milestone in a long-standing partnership.
Like all long-term relationships, the partnership between Africa and the European Union (EU) has evolved and changed over the years. This 5th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF), which took place in Brussels, Belgium from March 31st to April 1st at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, marked an important shift to a more equal footing for the two continents. Reflecting this and a move toward greater involvement from business, the theme of the event was: ‘A Common Future for EU-Africa: Engaging the private sector in sustainable and inclusive growth’.
Throughout two days of energetic discussion and debate, the spotlight was firmly on the private sector and how it can help drive African socio-economic development through sustained and inclusive growth. The Forum took place just a few days before the 4th EU-Africa Summit, hosted by the European Council, which was also held in Brussels from 2nd-3rd April. As one of the objectives of the 5th EABF was to formulate recommendations to be presented to Heads of State at the Summit, this timing was far from coincidental.
A total of 1,180 delegates from more than 65 African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) Member States attended, including high-level dignitaries such as European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. From the African side, the Forum was honoured by the presence of Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, AUC Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, President John Dramani Mahama, and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta Keïta of the Republic of Mali.
The opening ceremony was notable for its keynote speeches by President Barroso and Ms Dlamini- Zuma. President Barroso underlined the potential of Africa’s youthful population and the need for further integration and strengthening of partnerships. In an uplifting address from Ms Dlamini-Zuma, the audience heard of Africa’s inherent potential and the challenges that need to be addressed to allow the continent realise the AU’s ambitious goals.
In the spirit of putting the private sector centre stage, the opening speeches were followed by a keynote address from African business leader Mr Ahmed Heikal, followed by a few words from Mr Tajani and Mr Mwencha.
In addition to five high-level plenary sessions, the Forum programme included several four-hour sessions that profiled success stories of African small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This culminated in a lively session where eight countries made presentations on their investment opportunities to a panel of 16 investors.
The Forum also included a full programme of some 12 roundtables that covered a wide range of relevant issues critical to promoting inclusive and sustainable development in Africa. Guided by chairs, co-chairs and a moderator, these roundtables resulted in an extensive menu of recommended actions for how best to move forward with the EU-Africa Partnership.
More information on the 5th EABF:
- Brochure post-event
- Summary of Proceedings
- Joint Business Declaration at the 4th EU-Africa Summit
- Matrix of Recommendations
A series of follow up workshops was organised in Africa and Europe by the European Commission and the African Union Commission, building on the great success of the 5th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF) held in Brussels in 2014.