Africa Forum South Africa 2016

Following our successful event in London, the inaugural Hogan Lovells Africa Forum South Africa was held in Johannesburg on 7 October 2016. We looked at the forces of disruption and the agents of change and innovation creating a new Africa narrative, from an African perspective in four panel discussions.

Panel 1: New horizons – How African businesses are transforming the continent and transcending borders

Sub-Saharan corporates have blazed a formidable trail in Africa and beyond in recent years amidst challenging economic headwinds. We considered some of their stories and the innovations behind their success and asked what can be done to create more African success stories. We also looked at how these African corporates are dealing with the commodities slump, the lack of proper ICT and infrastructure as well as illiquidity and volatile exchange rates. As countries and corporates reposition their understanding of what it means and what it takes to do business in Africa and beyond, we looked at the opportunities that this shift in thinking creates for investors and corporates looking for the next big break.

Panel 2: A new age of funding. The rise of alternative investments and co-investing in Africa 

There is a shortage of credit for businesses in developing economies. Access to credit is particularly relevant in sub-Saharan Africa. We considered the effects of the rise of alternative investment funds dedicated to investing in debt products and how this has led to the disruption of the traditional bank lending. Is there an increase in competition and how does this affect liquidity, innovation and the destinations for capital? Is there room for alternative investors working alongside banks when banks are retreating and facing increased capital reforms? We debated who the likely winners might be.

Panel 3: Solving the infrastructure conundrum – lessons from China 

We know that poor infrastructure is a major impediment to economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of rail capacity, poor port and road management all prevent sustainable growth potential from being unlocked. In December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a US$60 billion loan and aid package to Africa to develop infrastructure, improve agriculture and reduce poverty on the continent. The relationship between China and Africa has not been without controversy. However, with a focus on improving infrastructure, China’s ultimate goal is to improve Africa’s manufacturing sector and economic growth. Can these two nations put the past behind them to realise Africa’s true potential?

Panel 4: Leaping ahead? How technology is transforming Africa

Has Africa embraced technology in the same way and at the same rate that Europe, Asia and the Americas have? Recently, the widespread adoption of mobile devices and new technology have allowed Africa to leap ahead in certain technological arenas. In our discussion we considered the ways in which these new technologies including widespread wi-fi internet connectivity, increased consumption of smartphones, mobile payments, bitcoin/ blockchain, and the Internet of Things could be used to accelerate Africa’s growth. We asked how regulation might prevent the revolution.

Download the PDF attachment for a brief summary of the speeches and panel discussions.

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