The Open Africa Initiative, a programme aimed at advancing the concept of intra-Africa economic and cultural integration – while boosting the continent’s young entrepreneurs – had a strong presence at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Open Africa Initiative, which was founded by the Africa50 Global Shapers in May 2017, is making strides in its quest to advocate a better future for young Africans through increased intra-Africa trade. (Image: Open Africa Initiative)

The programme, which was founded by Africa50 Global Shapers in 2017, sent four representatives to Davos to participate in panel discussions on African economic integration and the benefits it would bring to Africa’s up and coming entrepreneurs.

Open Africa representatives included Ghanaian social entrepreneur Foster Akugri, the youngest participant in this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) at the age of 23; Tanzanian edutainment entrepreneur Doreen Kessy; software developer Tinashe Mashungu from Zimbabwe; and South African water engineering prodigy Shamiso Kumbirai.

More than 20 African countries have lent their support to Open Africa, which has a presence in 30 African cities. It engages with several trade bodies, as well as the African Union’s Continental Free Trade Area team and Agenda 2063.

Participation at Davos this year was the culmination of a grassroots project that started in September 2017. An Open Africa bus journey taken by some of the continent’s best business minds travelled to 12 Africa countries, to research the economic trends of the continent and attempt to address challenges of cross-border trade, particularly for small goods traders and young entrepreneurs.

The Davos participants shared insights from the journey, particularly on key impediments to the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. A key objective was to advocate for African governments to adopt the free trade area and to create an African business collaboration platform.

Traditionally, the WEF gathering, which features business, political and cultural participants from around the world, aims to develop a shared global narrative to improve the state of the world. This year was no different, and the programme, initiatives and projects of the meeting were focused on creating a “shared future in a fractured world”.

Open Africa used the WEF platform to give a voice to African business and to shape the future of Africa by joining the global effort in co-design, co-create and collaborate.

Source: Open Africa Initiative

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