The Friends of Africa (FOA) Economic Development Conference held on the 4th of October 2014 at the Ball Room of the Sheraton Hotel And Conference Centre, Toronto.Breakfast Business Meetings
The Conference started with Breakfast Business meetings with Business delegates across the GTA and the Ghanaian Community. The Minister of State at the Presidency, Republic of Ghana, Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah led the African delegates. In attendance were the Consular General of the Republic of Ghana in Canada and officials of the Government of Ontario led by Kelly Brian- Murray of the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, and Industry (MEDTI).
FOA-Economic Development Conference
The Economic development conference opened on the 4th October 2014 with greetings from Canada delivered by the Consular General of the Republic of Ghana in Canada, Hon. Joseph Annin and a welcome address by the President of Casa Foundation, Olutoyin Oyelade. Hon. Han Dong, Member of Parliament (MP) and Deputy to Minister of Training, University, and Colleges brought goodwill messages from the Government of Ontario and represented the Premier at the Conference.
The Conference witnessed a gathering of professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, and public sector leaders from vertical industries in Canada, USA, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sudan participating at the roundtable sessions on the theme “Africa- The Next Investment Haven”. Presentations were three-fold with a focus on Small Business and Entrepreneur Financing opportunities by the Ontario government, Private sector Investment funding options presented by CEOs of Private Equity funds at the Investment Roundtable, while Public sector presentations focused on emerging opportunities in the high growth sectors of Africa for SMEs and investment firms. All Presentations and Communiqué are available atThe Repository on Casafoundation website with details below in this report.
Business Finance Roundtable:
Senior executives in the Business Development Group of the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade & Industry, Canada showcased the available funding opportunities by the Government of Ontario for SMEs and Entrepreneurs. Special vehicles, funds, and grants available to entrepreneurs were unveiled at the business roundtable and a later breakout session discussed accessibility and qualifiers for the SME dedicated funds and grants.
Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah presented the Conference keynote address at the Lunch session. He presented the statistics and current opportunities in sectors such as energy, petroleum, mineral resources, hotels, and tourism, as well as gaps in technical and skills training in West Africa to be facilitated by public sector policy initiatives and private sector intervention funds. He called on the West to partner with local African companies in the area of technical skills, training, and technology to fast track sustainable economic development in Africa.
Public Sector Roundtable:
Hon Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah- Minister of State at the Presidency, Republic of Ghana- made a special presentation on Ghana’s oil, waste to energy, hospitality, and tourism sectors and called on the business community to pursue investment opportunities in Ghana and enjoy concessions and tax benefits available to investors.
Hon. Jim Karygiannis- Federal Member of Parliament-2014, Chair of House Committee on Nigeria, Coptic’s Egypt, and Democratic Republic of Congo joined the public sector discussions on how entrepreneurs and professionals can advocate for policy changes to aid businesses. He advised delegates to task their leaders to deliver on election promises for better accountability.
Featured discussions on why Africa is the New Investment Haven and benefits for businesses.
Justin Woodward- Managing Partner & Chief Development Officer of JCM Capital- a Toronto & London based Private Equity firm investing in the emerging $40b solar energy markets in Latin America and Africa. Justin discussed the status of their investments in Solar power in Malawi, Cameroon, Ecuador etc. and why partnership with the locals provide stability of investments. Olutoyin Oyelade-Managing Partner at InVcap, an Investment Manager in Toronto & Nigeria, spoke on opportunities in Africa’s tourism and hospitality sectors facilitated by a growing middle class with changing appetites and attitudes to quality of living. She cited case studies of InVcap’s recent investment ventures in Nigeria and how other businesses could explore these sectors to expand into Africa.
Friend of Africa (FOA) Award- 2014
At the FOA Award session, Arc Olusola Oyelade, Chair of Casa Foundation Governing Board, announced to conference delegates the 2014 nominees for the FOA Awards. Two outstanding individuals were adjudged most impactful to Africa from the nominations received. They are:
Mr Chris Cooter-Canada
Dr. Laura Stachel- USA
Dr. Laura Stachel of We Care Solar emerged as the 2014 FOA Award Recipient. She was welcomed into the FOA Hall of Fame by the Chair, Casa Foundation. The Minister of State at The Presidency, Ghana, Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah presented the awards. Read more on Dr. Laura Stachel and how We Care Solar distributed 400 free Solar suitcases to rural hospitals in 22 countries including those in Africa.
Below are some of the event pictures.
Post Conference Meetings
5th October, 2014- Town Hall Meetings with the African Business Community: Held at the Ghana Presbyterian Conference Centre, Toronto. Minister Afriyie Ankrah presented the economic development initiatives of the current government of the Republic of Ghana and called on Ghanaians specifically and the African diaspora to channel their resources towards African development. Q & A session followed with diasporans and journalists.