Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, in conjunction with the Walsh School of Foreign Service’s African Studies Program, held its fourth annual Africa Business Conference over the weekend.
Dozens of high-ranking African officials and specialized panelists — including Abubakar Bukola Saraki, president of the Nigerian Senate — converged on the Northwest campus Saturday for the daylong conference, which addressed numerous issues integral to the future development of Africa.
“There are many indicators that assure us of the possibilities for taking African business prospects to the next level, but that is if we can grab and maximize the opportunities,” Bukola said during his opening remarks. “This conference is therefore very much in the moment. It matters very much that economic development must not be something that happens to Africa. It must be something that is envisioned and deliberately planned to reflect the African worldview and the African condition.”
Topics of discussion included digital finance, banking and natural resources, and media and entertainment, the latter incorporating a large panel that examined the equal distribution and creation of Africa-centric news and social content across the continent.
Moderator DJ Kweks, founder and CEO of social and professional network Afropolitan, posed a question to DeShuna Spencer, founder and CEO of Kweli TV, about the importance of creating and maintaining Black-owned media platforms amid widely popular mainstream outlets such as Netflix and YouTube.
“One day I was looking for Black films and I realized that it was very difficult,” Spencer said. “The same five movies kept popping up and I wanted something different. It’s a problem that I can’t just type in ‘Black movie’ or ‘African movie’ even on YouTube and yield good results. … So my company acts as a curator and our goal is for people to find our films easier. Something like ‘Lala Land’ is so easy to find and we want to make searching for Black films the same way. … We have to support independent Black filmmakers.”
One panel of particular interest toward the end of the conference, titled “Foreign Policy and the African Value Chain,” found participants questioning the continent’s secondary status globally despite its vast resources and potential.
“I want to see us advance more,” one student said. “And when I say advance more, I mean the way Africa incorporates technology. We have the most natural resources in the world, yet we’re behind on everything. What policies will the African Union and governments put in place to ensure that we are competing in the same way as everyone else?”