Africa CEO ForumFalling raw materials prices, health crises, security threats and so on have led the IMF to adjust its growth forecast for Africa downward. What are the implications for African businesses?

The official theme of the upcoming AFRICA CEO FORUM is “Africa's new economic environment.” The agenda will focus primarily on the development priorities of African businesses. As a matter of fact, this is in line with the original purpose of the forum which, since its inception in 2012, has established itself as the must-attend event for the African private-sector. 800 leading decision-makers from Africa and all over the world - including 500 top CEOs from over 30 African countries - will be attending the 2015 edition of the forum on 16 and 17 March in Geneva.

Africa's economic outlook will be discussed in depth, particularly at the opening plenary session. Experts and delegates will discuss the growth paths of Africa's economies over the next five years. The time for this discussion is more relevant than ever: several African countries have been weakened by falling oil and mineral prices while others, which are less dependent on raw materials, are seeing new opportunities open up. It remains to be seen exactly what and where these new opportunities are, and how they can be leveraged...

The 2015 AFRICA CEO FORUM will also address the subject of Africa's competitiveness, which is a crucial factor for businesses. The organisers - led by Groupe Jeune Afrique and the African Development Bank - have decided to tackle the issue of the famous Doing Business index which, every year, measures progress in the business environment of 189 countries. The question that will be asked in Geneva is very simple: why is Africa lagging behind (there are 36 African countries in the bottom 50) when Georgia, which is also an emerging economy, has climbed 100 places in eight years and is now in the top ten? We are guessing that political decision makers will offer a different perspective to their business counterparts. The discussions promise to be lively.

The urban explosion in Africa will also be high on the agenda at the forum. The focus here will not be on questions of urban planning, but rather what share of the 25 billion dollars-a-year consumer market African businesses can tap into, and under what conditions. Because of their invaluable grass-roots knowledge of transport, networks of all kinds, trade, planning, building and other (new) sectors in Africa, they could play a decisive role in structuring African cities and making them more productive.

The 2015 AFRICA CEO FORUM will also feature thematic conferences and practical seminars. Led by experts from Africa and all over the world, they will give the participants an opportunity to discuss growth sectors and the latest trends in business management and development. In addition, some new and highly innovative meeting formats will be introduced to give the business leaders, investors and financiers gathered in Geneva an opportunity to share their experiences, present their projects, find funds or new partners.

With less than two months to go before the Forum's doors open, many prominent figures from Africa and all over the world have already confirmed their participation in the high-level meetings and discussions that will be held at the 2015 AFRICA CEO FORUM. This upcoming gathering of top African private-sector organisations promises to be just as successful as previous editions and participation should, once again, reach a record high.

The following prominent figures have already confirmed their attendance: Jonathan Oppenheimer, Director, E. Oppenheimer & Son; Issad Rebrab, Chairman of Cévital; Adewale Tinubu, CEO of Oando; Mo Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Jean Kacou Diagou, Chairman of NSIA; Pierre-André Terisse, Managing Director Africa of Danone; Alioune Ndiaye, Managing Director of Sonatel; Henri-Claude Oyima, CEO of BGFI; Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, CEO of Kalagadi Manganese; Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of UNECA; Salwa Akhannouch, CEO of the Aksal group; Robert Yildirim, Chairman of Yildirim Group; Dr. Chris Kirubi, Chairman of Haco Tigers Brands; Mohammed Bennani, CEO of Bank of Africa; Oba Otudeko, Chairman of Honeywell Group and numerous African finance ministers.

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