"It was a mind blowing three days" -Summit participant
In the heart of Entebbe, Uganda against the backdrop of the serene Innophine Hotel, the Trans Africa Investment Summit 2023 unfolded as a collection of timely ideas, inclusive discussions, and strategic initiatives. Co-sponsored by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum Africa and the Republic of Uganda's Operation Wealth Creation, the summit went beyond the typical conference setting, immersing attendees in an intimate, energetic atmosphere with the promise of investment-driven change.
Africa, a continent with endless potential, finds itself at a pivotal juncture. The summit, a melting pot of ideas and opportunities, centered on the key ingredient that can propel Africa into a new era of prosperity – wholistic investment. The three-day event breathed life into the diverse avenues for investment, spanning sectors crucial for sustainable development.
Day 1: Opening Ceremony – Setting the Stage for Prosperity
The summit kicked off with Major General Sam Kavuma, representing the President's Office addressing the audience. He underscored the link between human security and the factors of production: land, labor, capital, and market. The need for skilled labor and the importance of simplifying access to finance became focal points of his address, providing a backdrop for discussions on investment readiness.
"You can not develop as a nation if you do not look deeply at these factors," emphasized Major General Kavuma, laying the groundwork for the summit's overarching theme – leveraging social capital for robust investment.
A key highlight of his speech was the addition of technology and entrepreneurship to the traditional factors of production. The summit's program went on to deeply engage about potential roadblocks to sustained growth in Uganda and beyond especially in the technological landscape. Approximately 29 million Ugandans face issues with consistent electricity showcasing the urgent need for innovative solutions and, consequently, potential investment opportunities in the energy sector.
As speakers like the Deputy Minister from the Uganda Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development took the stage, the summit made known investment avenues linked to sustainable development, technological innovation, and the imperative of road, rail, and port infrastructure.
Queen Ammenata of Ghana: Illuminating Africa's Path to Change
The Development Agenda of the Royal Fulbe Kingdom of Ashanti Ghana took center stage next with insights from Her Royal Highness Queen Ammenata. Addressing hunger alleviation, women's health, environmental concerns, and women's empowerment, the Queen's discourse painted a vivid picture of the challenges and opportunities awaiting impactful investments in Ghana. The Queen highlighted some of the work she is leading on behalf of the kingdom and left the door open for strategic partnerships aligning with causes within the agenda of the Kingdom.
"For Africa to change, the solution is at the grassroots level," declared Queen Ammenata, urging a focus on fundamental, community-driven changes.
The Parish Development Model: Uganda's Blueprint for Investment Success
Community level is where the Honorable Irene Muwanguzi's presentation on the Parish Development Model (PDM) shed light on Uganda's strategy to become a regional food basket. With pillars focused on financial inclusion, holistic transformation, and gender equality, the PDM is a beacon of opportunity for not only local government facilitated initiatives, but private sector investors looking to participate in Uganda's journey from a low to a high-income nation.
Key challenges like limited quality control and poor infrastructure were candidly discussed, creating a transparent framework for potential investors to assess the landscape.
Day 2: Mining and Mindsets - Investing in Growth
The second day unfolded with discussions on challenges and opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo's mining sector by Prince Abenge. This session was a window into the complexities of investing in a region rich in resources but entangled in administrative intricacies.
Abenge, a Royal in the Democratic Republic of Congo did not shy away from introducing first hand insights into the challenges and opportunities in the nation's mining sector. His address shined light onto the complexities of navigating DRC's licensing processes, highlighting the need for informed decision-making and strong relationships within the country. The statistics and facts from on the ground in DRC paint a nuanced picture, reflecting the resource-rich potential awaiting strategic investors in Congo.
Moreover, Ms. Gloria Turyamureeba's common sensical session on Women Empowerment and Tourism echoed the need for balanced empowerment both for the girl child and the boy child. She spoke in a very matter of fact way about the need for intentional shifts in mindset not only for youth, but for those in charge of guiding youth towards their destiny. Ms. Turyamurreba brought the audience to its feet as she dropped timeless gems of wisdom about what the path forward has to look like. She emphasized mindset shifts from all levels of involvement.
Mindset shifting is exactly what the unique "SHIFT Approach" presented by Mr. Ethan Brisby showcased. Brisby, an African American resettling in East Africa and Founder of SHIFT Enterprise Academy passionately introduced the three programs and two projects of SHIFT currently ongoing in East Africa. In doing so, he infused a sense of hope and deep meaning into what a mindset shift can look like in real time. Brisby also introduced SHIFT's angel investor network as a potential pathway for investments to bridge economic divides between Africa and the diaspora.
SHIFT's deeply researched and practical training programs, are designed to empower enterprising minds through first a renewed mind then entrepreneurial pursuits of their liking. The need especially for Africa's youthful population to evolve it's socioeconomic activity into the Digital Age helped make SHIFT a well-received initiative discussed at the event.
According to the African Development Bank, Africa's youth population is expected to double to over 830 million by 2050.
Day 3: Intellectual Property, E-Commerce, and Financial Technology
Barrister Cynthia Akueya Nchaw's energetic session on Intellectual Property Rights Protection provided valuable insights into safeguarding innovations. The native Cameroonian kept the audience spellbound with her passionate plea for African entrepreneurs to engage rightfully with protecting their intellectual property while understanding how to engage with the bodies that govern both national and global IP and patent laws.
Mr. Clive Sherer from the United Kingdom provided insights into franchising, a growth model relatively unfamiliar to many attendees. Questions arose about oversight and profitability, but the potential of the franchise model in Africa was recognized.
Another standout moment of the summit was the spotlight on Afrivan, a dynamic e-commerce solution that mirrors the global giant Amazon. Dr. Jackson Ivan Isiko, a native Ugandan residing in Utah, USA is the founder of Afrivan. His presentation illustrated how the platform is poised to revolutionize online shopping in Africa. As he spoke passionately about providing efficient and pleasant online shopping experiences for artisans, small business owners, and corporations, the audience received a glimpsed into a game changing force in the realm of digital commerce.
The Afrivan platform, with its roots in Uganda and aspirations reaching far beyond, represents a paradigm shift in how Africans will engage in online trade. The potential for investment in such platforms not only signifies financial returns but also underscores the importance of fostering digital infrastructure as a cornerstone for Africa's economic evolution.
Mrs. Edith Kutesa's presentation on M-Cash, a fintech solution in Uganda provided a smooth transition from ecommerce. Kutesa's message to the audience gracefully exemplified the tangible results of strategic investment in financial technology. Her emphasis on access to financial services for all resonated with the broader vision of inclusive, impactful investment.
Uganda's Open Door Policy: A Call for Collaborative Investment
Major General Sam Kavuma's statement on Uganda's commitment to opening its doors to partners reinforced the summit's broader call for collaborative investments. Against the backdrop of Uganda's steady GDP growth, increasing access to electricity, and rising opportunities in sectors like renewable energy and technology, the call for partnerships is not just an invitation; it's an imperative.
As the Trans Africa Investment Summit 2023 drew to a close, the collective sentiment was one of hope, enthusiasm, and a readiness for action. The collaborative nature of the summit, marked by its intimate setting, traditional cheers, and moments of levity, painted a vivid image of a continent on the cusp of steady growth, inclusion, and self-reliance.
Africa's future is not a distant dream; it's a reality being shaped by investments that go beyond monetary value – investments in education, entrepreneurship, leadership, and personal development. The variety of ideas, discussions, and initiatives woven together at the summit is a testament to Africa's potential, waiting to be unlocked through strategic and impactful investments.
The summit was not just a call to look; it was a call to invest, to believe, and to act. The journey to Africa's prosperous future has begun, and the Trans Africa Investment Summit 2023 was air under the wings of many initiatives that will help individuals, communities, and nations soar into positive methodical shifts of reality.
The event rightfully so was closed out by Chief Guest, John Mugabi Socrates. Socrates is the Founder and President of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Entebbe. He is also the Entebbe Municipality Development Forum Coordinator.
WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP FORUM AFRICA (WEFA), Is the Women’s League of Pilot international: www.pilot-int.com
The purpose of WEFA Leadership Forum is to establish a powerful database and network of professional women entrepreneurs and leaders from all sectors across Africa and the Diaspora, to trade among ourselves, share investment opportunities, collaborate on any development opportunities and programs for progressive development and to foster women-led socio economic Transformation of the African continent.