On the 14th June 2019 Rwanda hosted the first-ever Eisenhower Fellowship Regional Conference in Africa. The two-day gathering brought together eminent business persons, policymakers, diplomats, government officials and academics from the region and beyond to discuss economic connectivity in Africa, an important driver of future jobs and well-being.
Eisenhower Fellowships (EF) exist to inspire leaders around the world to challenge themselves to think beyond their current scope, to engage others and to leverage their own talents to better the world around them.
This year’s theme, The Future of Africa’s Global Integration, aimed to unpack the opportunities, discuss the challenges and present solutions to enhance the exchange of ideas, people, goods and services that will contribute to the new social compact between citizens and leaders for the public good.
Sustainable dialogue was essential to achieving the outcomes outlined for the conference:
President Paul Kagame graced the event with an open dialogue session hosted by George De Lama, President of the Eisenhower Fellowships.
IE University Chairman of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Centre and Eisenhower Fellow Juan Jose’ Güemes participated in a plenary session titled, The Digital Divide – Strategies for bridging the digital divide for inclusive socio economic development. The digital divide is seen as a new form of socioeconomic inequality, with more than 50% of the global population still not having access to the internet. During the panel discussion as well as throughout the conference there was a strong focus on education and some of the critical questions were:
On the final day of the conference Professor Grace Obado, Associate Professor of International Relations and Sustainable Development at IE University took to the stage for the final plenary session. The closing session was titled, Governance – Putting in place structures that will promote Africa’s integration into the global economy. Prof. Obado left the audience with a strong call to action for all Africans to start moving by sharing the reasons Africa missed the first three industrial revolutions due to slavery & colonialism and highlighting the importance of the 4th Digital Revolution for Africa and the next generation and how we cannot be left behind.
The two-day conference was a resounding success with conversations not only focusing on technology but touching on the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Grappling with questions such as; how do we exploit this agreement to grow our continent? How do we showcase our African products as there is lack of information about our products? Platforms are required to showcase products, negotiate pricing and facilitate payments.
I leave you with a quote from one of the esteemed panelists “Don’t try to organise the chaos, embrace it and find opportunity to do business in the chaos.”