After remaining in oblivion for years, African companies are forcing global investors to take notice. In Davos, backed by the celebrity power of rapper Will.i.am, they are keen to keep up the momentum.
It’s easy to miss the Africa House on Davos’ main boulevard called the promenade. There are no flags or a board with its name, just a monitor detailing the agenda of the day. The centerpiece of Africa’s engagement in the Swiss Alpine town is housed in a blockchain firm’s pavilion, perhaps to underscore Africa’s embracing of modern technologies.
Once inside the hall, Africa comes alive; its colors, costumes and culture are on full display, and so is its entrepreneurial spirit.
“They say ‘who will eat chocolates made in Africa,’ I tell them, well, Africans will eat them,” says one speaker at the panel discussion underway, as the audience bursts into laughter and applause.
The panel discussion is part of several events organized by the Africa House to tell the Africa growth story to global investors, while showcasing the opportunities on the continent.
“The turnout has been impeccable,” says Hyatt Antognini, chief commercial officer of the Africa House. “We have been hearing that a lot of people have already made some strong partnerships. It seems that things are moving forward.”
Selling Brand Africa
While Africa and issues concerning it have been regularly debated and discussed prominently during annual meetings of the World Economic Forum, African governments and businesses have been largely absent from the promenade, where countries and companies have been setting up pavilions for years to attract investments and build networks.
The Africa House, which was launched in 2020 at the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting, aims to change that. It is offering a platform for African businesses and entrepreneurs to foster collaborations, build connections across borders, as well as showcase their activities to global leaders.
“We’re not waiting. Why do we have to wait for somebody else,” rapper and tech entrepreneur Will.i.am, who is also the co-chair of the Africa House told DW. “Africa has lots of issues, but it also has lots of freaking awesomeness.”
Credit: Mark-Anthony Johnson