Five years after UN members have declared unanimously, that they would bring an end to extreme poverty by 2015, it is time to see if the world achieved success. It is clear right away, that Africa will not reach these so-called Millennium Goals. Why not? Why does Africa lag so far behind? And more specifically, why does its private sector not flourish like in many Asian countries?
Experts see many causes for the disappointing development of Africa. The dominance of the informal sector in most African economies, the position of women in society, the image of Africa itself and the high risk rate for direct foreign investments are all influencing the investment climate and the way in which businesses can grow and contribute to domestic African economies.
There is a latent entrepreneurial class in Africa, that is part of a growing middle class of consumers. They can contribute to the formation and strengthening of a 'developmental state'. But how? And how will commercial banks, the international community, civil-society organizations, micro-finance organizations and other parties support this surging African middle-class?
The Centre for Development Studies, University of Groningen - together with the Africa Studies Centre (ASC) in Leiden - organizes a public meeting about African entrepreneurs. In this meeting, African and international experts from universities, governments and businesses will discuss these issues and the ways in which they play a role in a developing society. The central question is not if Africa will experience vast economic growth within – say – twenty years, but what a modern, more prosperous and competitive Africa will look like in the social and socio-economic sense. Will Africa ever become a normal capitalist continent? Will its informal sector fade away? Will women necessarily lose out in what should be a positive process? Who will have access to the financial services?
Keynote speaker: Mrs. Lucia Akosua Quachey , entrepreneur and co-founder of the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE); founding president of the Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs (GAWE)
Referent: Hans Boon, Vice President, ING Postbank. Hans Boon is responsible for co-operation programs involving the development of postal banks, postal financial services and postal networks.
Discussants: Honorine Illa, Université de Ouagadougou, (Burkina Faso), is currently doing her PhD study in Groningen on different management styles in West Africa. Anver Versi, editor at African Business and winner of the 2005 Diageo Africa Business Reporting Award for best publications and best journalist.