The Standard Bank Africa Forum conference gets under way at the Cape Town International Conference Centre on 27 October, with the theme of “connecting Africa to the world, and the world to Africa”.
The conference brings together more than 300 strategic decision makers from corporates across 32 countries, with more than two-thirds of the delegates coming from outside South Africa.
At a pre-conference media briefing, Standard Bank’s Global Head of Client Coverage and Investment Banking Brad Koen, said the particular relevance of running a working conference at this critical moment in the global economy was the potential to leverage off bilateral meetings between the broad spectrum of delegates.
“Business people are not interested in conferences for the sake of content in the middle of an economic downturn – they want the opportunity to set up multiple meetings with other strategic decision-makers from across the globe to do business and strike deals, a process that otherwise might take them months to accomplish,” he said.
What makes this conference unique compared to the 13 previous conferences Standard Bank has hosted each year since 1995, is a sectoral theme adopted this year. The conference looks at the key themes facing the world and specifically Africa. The sectors of greatest importance to the continent’s development being Power and Infrastructure; Mining and Metals; Oil, Gas and Renewables; Financial Institutions and Telecommunications and Media. These sectors also map to the bank’s internal expertise.
Day 1 of the conference will look to the major global themes – particularly the credit crisis, and views on what form and timetable a recovery may take.
“The discussions will position Africa in that context, and its role within the global crisis,” said Koen.
Day 2 will zoom in on Africa the continent from an external perspective, looking in particular at why the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are focusing so much of their energy on the continent.
“It will look at what companies from these countries are trying to achieve in Africa, as well as their views on the sustainability of economic reform and how easy it is to do business on the continent,” said Koen.
Day 3 will again focus on Africa, but with a more internal view, looking at what Africa has to do to adapt and absorb the evolving geopolitical environment. This will be opened by Trevor Manuel, who will focus on this topic.
“The world is increasingly seeing Africa as less a provider of commodities and a consumer of aid, and more in a strategic manner. Day 3 will then close with a look at the impact of the Soccer World Cup 2010,” said Koen.
A vital aspect of days 2 and 3 will be breakaway sessions focused on each of the four key sectors.
Jacques Megreditchian also joined the press conference, and spoke about Standard Bank’s strategic partnership with Troika in Russia. Speaking broadly around the exciting opportunities that exist between the two groups, Jacques looked forward to joining the conference this year and in the future as the partnership develops.