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Gabon Hosts First Pan-African Economic Global Summit

Gabon President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba has launched an ambitious development agenda to transform the country.
The first Pan-African economic global summit is scheduled to be held in Gabon’s capital, Libreville, Friday.

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The three day-summit, dubbed the New York Forum, is expected to attract hundreds of industry figures, entrepreneurs, and political decision-makers from across Africa.

Richard Attias, founder of the New York Forum, said Gabon President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba will deliver the key note address to officially open the summit.

“I would say the DNA of the forum is quite unique, because we have more than 600 participants representing more than 50 countries, and 50 percent of them are coming from outside the continent, which is a great achievement because it’s an amazing opportunity for them to discover the investment opportunities in Africa and of course in the region and in Gabon,” said Attias.

“The second very important component of the New York Forum Africa is a call to action, which means that they are not just discussions and debate about global issues, but we leave room for an action plan, with a roadmap to be implemented to address and try to solve the major issues that the global economy is facing in Africa,” added Attias.

Critics have expressed skepticism about the conference. They cited instances where lofty summits and symposiums have been held over the years, but the numerous roadmaps and recommendations from these forums have yet have not been successful.

However, Attias said Africa’s new leadership will play an important role in the success of the New York Forum.

“Africa should take its destiny in its hands, and we don’t need just to expect foreign investments or global partners to come and to solve all these issues. So we see that now on the continent, so we are in a perfect timing,” continued Attias.

“This is why I am confident that, for the first time, the ideas which would be discussed, the project which would be put on the table, has a serious chance to be implemented.”

Organizers say task forces will be set up to draw up roadmaps on themes such as growth in Africa, African business models, the energy equation, the role of the African diaspora, security, tourism and regional integration.

They also indicated that a final document containing proposals and recommendations will be presented to the G20 in Mexico to be used as a “laboratory of ideas.”

The place and role of African women, organizers say, will feature prominently during the three-day summit. They add that a day after the New York Forum AFRICA, the Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women will host a “Dialogue for Action,” a meeting exclusively dedicated to women, which is scheduled to act as a platform for discussions about issues affecting women in Africa and the possible ways of improving their lives.

Attias discussed his expectations for the summit.

“[It’s] to bring at least hundreds of participants from outside the continent who have never been [to] Africa, by having a good number of investors from the United States, from China from the Middle East. The second is to have very practical open dialogue on investment opportunities,” said Attias.