With the focus on rebuilding economies in Africa post-Covid, the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) (AWIEForum.org) has added highly prestigious keynote speakers to its programme for its annual conference which is online this year. These include the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretary General, Wamkele Mene, the United States Ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, and the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Ambassador H.E. Marks will provide the opening keynote to AWIEF2020. This year the conference is themed ‘Reimagining Business and Rebuilding Better’ and will be held on 2-3 December 2020. African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretary-General, H.E. Mene, will also speak on Day 1, addressing the crucial role of AfCFTA in rebuilding the continent post-pandemic. This year’s event MC will be popular broadcaster and SABC TV presenter, Leanne Manas.
“COVID-19, a global pandemic of the century, has caused enormous global upheaval and has highlighted enduring inequalities in African societies and many regions across the world. This year’s AWIEF conference theme calls on us to reflect on the structures that underpin the African economies and society as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and explore ways to recover from its aftereffects. Global and African thought leaders will dialogue on the role of business, leadership, innovation, technology, agriculture, trade, impact and gender-lens investing, women, and youth in a post-crisis world,” says Irene Ochem, AWIEF CEO and founder.
The annual AWIEF conference prides itself on bringing together the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa, focusing on developing emerging women entrepreneurs and connecting them to established business networks and women mentors; as well as sharing best practice and providing thought leadership on issues that address women’s economic empowerment, innovation, trade and investing in Africa.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women in business, amplifying concerns about gender inequality and the financial inclusion of women in Africa. On the positive side, the pandemic has accelerated progress in digital transformation and the expansion of the digital economy in Africa, which will continue to grow across sectors such as agriculture, education, healthcare, ecommerce and ICT.Stakeholders attending the conference or as speakers, include African and global business leaders, development experts and policy makers, discussing the impact of the 2020 global crisis and what 2021 and beyond holds for the continent, especially in terms of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063.
This will include positioning AfCFTA to propel the economic agenda and sustainable development goals forward – all the while ensuring gender balance is a priority and women are given a seat at the trade table as AfCFTA gains traction.
This year’s conference event has never been more important, occurring as it does in the shadow of a global pandemic, thereby presenting an opportunity to reimagine business, accelerate innovation, and craft the new systems that will be needed in order to navigate the coming year, to ensure the basic needs of citizens are met, and more. Conference themes include: making entrepreneurship work better; reimaginging investment and accelerating the gender-lens impact; regional food trade under Covid; the role of women in the digital and green revolution agenda; key trends in rebuilding Africa; and young entrepreneurs’ success stories.
A virtual exhibition will take place alongside the conference; and the AWIEF Awards celebrating excellence in African women entrepreneurship, including the APO Group African Women in Media Award, will be presented on Day 2 of the event, 3 December.
AWIEF2020 Virtual Conference is supported as Partners and Sponsors by: AGRA, USAID, Nedbank, APO Group, Afreximbank, and WESGRO.