Conference aims to boost confidence

13 September 2004

In a bid to boost optimism around the economic future of Africa, UCT's Graduate School of Business (GSB) is hosting a conference next month to address the broader issues around doing business in Africa.

The conference, which is the first of its kind in South Africa to be hosted by a business school, is designed to help governments, business and other stakeholders reflect on how business is conducted in Africa and encourage more investment and trade in the region.

Conference organiser Loyiso Mbabane, a senior lecturer at the GSB, said that the conference is all about transformation.

"We want to facilitate transformation in the manner in which business is conducted in Africa and at the same time to throw more light on the opportunities that exist on this very rich continent of ours," he said.

"As a teaching and research institution, we are also keen to encourage a better understanding of African economies, with a view to playing a central role in the growth of the continent, from a business point of view."

Mbabane said that while conferences of this ilk are often held internationally, the most notable being the annual Harvard Africa Business Conference, universities in South Africa are not following the trend. This is indicative of both the huge potential of Africa for business and inherent afro-pessimism in South African institutions.

"It is time that this situation was changed," he said." And as one of the leading business schools in Africa we need to be spearheading that change. "

The conference, which is expected to attract delegates from across Africa, will unpack the risks and returns of doing business in Africa as well as the logistics and practicalities of investing in or opening a business in the region. The different requirements of specific sectors including mining, financial services, retail and consumer goods, and media and telecommunications will be highlighted. Key success factors and growth flash points in each of these sectors will also be explored.

A formidable panel of speakers has been assembled to talk on the varied ways they and their organisations have achieved success in African markets. The lineup includes Miko Rwayitare from Telecel International, who is credited with cornering the cell-phone market in the Congo, Ebrahim Rasool, premier of the Western Cape, and Lumkile Mondi, chief economist at the Industrial Development Corporation.

The keynote speaker is Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, chairperson of the NEPAD Steering Committee and economic advisor to Thabo Mbeki, one of the kingpins in the development of the new African growth framework. The conference will coincide with Heritage Day and will run from Friday afternoon, September 24, to Saturday, September 25.

Mandisi Mphahlwa, Minister of Trade and Industry, will be the guest of honour at the dinner on September 25. He will deliver the keynote address, outlining trade and industry opportunities in Africa. For more information, contact Hawa Palekar on (021) 406 1442 or e-mail

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