African CEO Forum Fosters Emergence of Next Wave of Billion-Dollar African Enterprises

The 2023 edition of the Africa CEO Forum (#ACF2023) was held in Abidjan from 5 to 6 June 2023. The event attracted some 1800 participants, including mostly CEO, GM and Directors of companies across 41 African countries as well as top policymakers.

The Presidents of Cote d’Ivoire, Alesanne Ouattara, and of Senegal, Macky Sall, were some of the heads of states in attendance. PM of Cote d’Ivoire Patrick Achi, the PM of Morocco Aziz Akhannouch, the PM of Cameroon Joseph Dion Ngute, the PM of Gabon Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze and the PM of Sao Tome & Principe Patrice Trovoada graced the event with their presence. On the opening day of the Forum, Cote d’Ivoire signed three deals worth a total of USD 450 million.

Discussion Panel at ACF2023

Financial institutions were well represented with Akinwumi Adesina, President of AfDB; Samaila Zubairu President of AFC; Benedict Oramah, President of AfreximBank, Jeremy Awori, CEO EcoBank; and Alain Law Min, CEO of Mauritius Commercial Bank; amongst others.

The event ambitions to be the flagship meeting of the private sector in Africa. It is co-organized by the Jeune Afrique Media Group and the World Bank International Finance Corporation (IFC) and was initiated in 2012. Among the African champions, we note Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group, Abdul Samd Rabiu of BUA Group, Delphine Traore of Allianz Africa, Jonathan Oppenheimer of E. Oppenheimer & Son, and Hardy Pemhiwa of Cassava Technologies.

The theme of this year’s conference was: “From 300 to 3000: Accelerating the emergence of the next generation of African champions.” Currently, Africa counts more than 300 companies with revenues of one billion US dollars or more. Therefore, the African CEO Forum ambitions to hike up this number to 3000 in spite of a difficult global context.

African Champion Enterprises (Source: McKinsey)

According to a survey by McKinsey, Africa has at least 345 companies with a revenue of USD 1 billion or more. South Africa has the largest number of billion-dollar companies followed by Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria. However, the richest man in Africa is Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote with a net worth of USD 13.5 billion.

During the traditional award ceremony, Delphine Traore of Allianz Africa won the African CEO of the Year Award. ARISE IIP received the African Champion Award while mPharma became the Disrupter of the Year. The jury pointed out that mPharma stood out because it successfully applies technology to optimize the supply chain of medicines and it actually thrived in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

During the two-day conference, African captains of industry took a keen look at key issues such as #EnergyTransition, #FoodSecurity and #Digitalization with a view to transform crises into opportunities. Through panel discussions, roundtables and B2B meetings, the Forum exchanged ideas on best practices and policies to put in place in order to facilitate the emergence of new African entrepreneurial champions.