Business leaders meet for African Development Forum, LEAD IN:
Business leaders are in Morocco for the African Development Forum.
The event aims to promote better trade ties between countries across the continent.
Business people from across Africa gather in Casablanca.
They’re here for the two-day African Development Forum.
Organisers say economic players from 23 nations are participating, including representatives from 17 African countries.
The conference aims to promote business to business contacts between the 1,700 delegates.
Senegalese Ministerial Advisor, Youssou N’dour, says cultivating this network is vital for success: “Africa is a big market. Generally, if we stay as micro states we will never develop adequately.”
The businessmen and women hear from high-ranking speakers including Moulay Hafid El Alamy, the Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy.
He’s keen to empathise his country’s economic clout in the region.
“Morocco is the second biggest investor in Africa after South Africa,” he says.
Morocco’s Export Promotion Bureau has joined forces with Attijariwafa Bank to organise the event.
The Moroccan banking group’s CEO tells delegates what he hopes the forum could achieve.
“We hope that this conference will prove to be fertile ground for new initiatives for bold companies and partnerships of the future,” says Mohammed El Kettani, CEO of Attijariwafa Bank.
Key themes at this year’s conference are improving business infrastructure and streamlining laws to facilitate ‘south-to-south’ trade – the term used to describe trade between developing countries.
Madeleine Berre, President of Gabon Business Federation thinks it’s an exciting time for the region.
“Africa has become today the only axis of growth. It is the new El Dorado, it’s the continent where there is a lot going on,” she says.
“We have great opportunities because we are in a phase of construction, innovation and modernisation,” Berre explains.
Thousands of meetings are being conducted away from the main stage.
Zidane Moulay El Hassan, an executive with electronics manufacturer COMATEC, has a clear idea of what the conference can offer companies.
“I would say seize opportunities, the enormous opportunities that are there in Africa, for the the small and medium businesses as well as the big business,” he says.
After seeing solid growth over the last decade, Morocco has been positioning itself as one of Africa’s main economic drivers.
Morocco’s banks are now some of the continent’s largest lenders.
The Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment says he wants to see growth across the whole continent.
“The vision of Morocco is to be one of the hubs of the African continent, but we aren’t pretending that we will be the only hub,” says Moulay Hafid El Alamy.
“What we want is to attract investors to Morocco and I believe that exercise has been going well , but beyond that we need to see Africa rise up alongside us.”
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