I attended the “Planning for the Future 2019: A Conversation About Education Entrepreneurship, and Employment in Africa” on September 25, 2019 held at the Africa House inside New York University. The International University of Grand-Bassam Foundation sponsored the event. The foundation holds office in Atlanta, Georgia while the university is located in the Ivory Coast. The panelists were Elozi Lomponda, CEO of Books on Canoes operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and an education activist from Belgium with family roots from the Congo; Leila Ndiaye, the President and CEO of Initiative for Global Development, with a Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Centre d’Estudes Diplamatiqueset Strategiques (CEDS) in Paris; Leonard Wantchekonthe founder of the African School of Economics in Benin and Professor at Princeton University, Yaw Nyarko, Professor of Economics at New York University and Director of the Africa House, and Nabou Fall, CEO of Vizio.
This event was hosted by the IUGB Foundation. The foundation is a 501(c)3 U.S. tax-exempt nonprofit organization founded by the U.S. and Ivorian supporters of the International University of Grand-Basaam (IUGB) who wanted to connect IUGB with the best resources, connections and insights that the U.S.A and the world have to offer.
I attended the conference to confirm my speculation that the conference would conclude at looking for new business models for Africa. I just listened to the panelists answering questions and the questions and comments raised by the participants.
The outcome of the conference confirmed what I was expecting. The discussion generally focused on looking for new business models. The business models include educational infrastructure that will prepare the youth in Africa for new skills with the influx of Chinese aids bringing in their own workers; agricultural education and entrepreneurship; hotels and tourism; food security; fund generation and the establishment of investment funds; health care; and for transforming the African brain drain and diaspora into opportunity by establishing new operating structures.
With academicians comprising most of the panelists from different countries in Africa, I was expecting that I would be listening to motherhood statements. Apparently, I heard the same common problems but the more practical approach of these African scholars really surprised me. They are now looking for practical business model solutions.