New-York Forum Africa: going forward

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From 14 to 16 June, Libreville moves to the beat of the second New-York Forum Africa. The success of the first forum, in June 2012, looks set to be repeated. With an ambition: to celebrate the marriage of private initiative and the development of public infrastructure; investing both in business and in the conditions for future development. The presence of six African heads of state on Friday 14 June in Libreville showed this new horizon for African development.

It is the style and quality of the work of Richard Attias’s teams that make this forum what it is: bringing together top level speakers in all the economic fields and leading them to frank and clear debate on concrete subjects.

From this point of view, the morning of Friday 14 June will go down in African history: Christine Ockrent moderated two round tables, one after the other. The first brought head-to-head Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Hubert Védrine, former French foreign minister under François Mitterrand, and Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan minister for foreign affairs and cooperation. A second brought together six African heads of state: Ali Bongo Ondimba, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Theodore Obiang, Macky Sall, Michel Djotodia and Idriss Déby.

They were all addressing the same question: the question of Africa. What must be done so that Africa’s remarkable growth – sustained despite the world economic crisis – can bring jobs and progress for populations and in particular African youth? A question posed first by Ali Bongo. A question posed by Richard Attias. An answer, above all, awaited by all the people of Africa.

It is precisely the ambition of the New York Forum to create the conditions for this answer: to close the gaps between the energy, the political will and the investors. To bring together those who decide for the states and those who choose for the international companies, and to make them talk in a concrete way about “inclusive” development projects. Because, as Ali Bongo Ondimba emphasised: Africa today knows that she will be the instigator of her own development. And that she must also be the first beneficiary.

Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo, proved to be the perfect teacher of this concrete approach, explaining how he saw the cooperation between public powers and private companies that want to develop their activities in Congo. On one side, lending know-how and technologies, aiming to develop activities that will create jobs. On the other, the state financing of the conditions, communication infrastructure and energy supplies that are necessary for processing and production activities to be launched.

And suddenly the whole spirit of the New-York Forum took form: the marriage of public and private, of the economy and of development, of taking into account the social and structural needs of a country at the same time as the legitimate aspirations of wealth creators.
A winning bet, meetings sealed, ambitions multiplied: establishing the New-York Forum Africa as the essential annual meeting for the continent’s growth.

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