In 2015, economic growth in Africa slowed to a paltry 3% due to falling commodity prices. Economies were exposed for the commodity-monoliths they were and governments were confronted by the results of their own outmoded economic models. This was a loud call for governments and all stakeholders to think in other terms in order to reinforce economies and accelerate growth.
It is no longer business as usual in Africa and this year's Harvard Business School (HBS) Africa Business Conference is the harbinger of a gear shift. In what is its 20th annual installment, the conference is going to run under the theme "Values and Value Chains: Africa in a New Global Era", a forceful statement of intent. According to the conference's official website, "Now is the time for the African continent, with its rich history, resources, values, and institutions, to provide the global dialogue with unique perspectives and ideas that contribute towards making the continent and the world a better, more inclusive place."
The goal is to change the conversations about Africa from a passive embellishment of resource potential to "a more proactive, vigorous form of African potential". Naturally, therefore, this year's conference will zone in on secondary and tertiary industries. It is this deliberate focus on manufacturing and service provision (rather than bare extraction) that will spur Africa's economic growth going forward. This year's keynote speakers include the current Afreximbank President and Chairman, Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah and Mostafa Terrab, the Chairman and CEO of the OCP Group.