15 JUNE 2023


Arnaud Thysen
Director General
European Business Summits

Opening Plenary Session - Accelerating Opportunities and Overcoming Challenges in EU-Africa Trade and Investments

Koen Doens
DG INTPA, European Commission

Jean-Marc Peterschmitt
Managing Director, Industry, Commerce & Agribusiness

M. Chakib Alj

Mohamed Benchaâboun
Director General
Moroccan Sovereign Fund

Abou Dosso
Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union, and Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Albert Muchanga
AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining

Jean Van Wetter

Shada Islam
EU Analyst

EU-Africa cooperation relies on trade and investments to promote economic growth and the EU remains one of Africa’s largest trading partners. Within this framework, the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package assumes a significant role as it strives to support Africa in achieving a strong, inclusive, green, and digital recovery and transformation. It aims to accelerate the green and digital transitions while fostering sustainable growth and decent job creation. Trade and investments serve as the bedrock of EU-Africa cooperation, playing a pivotal role in driving economic growth. The EU remains a major trading partner for Africa, and revitalizing trade between the two regions is crucial for Africa’s integration into global value chains. These engagements hold immense potential for boosting Africa’s economy by attracting investments in vital sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, and renewable energy. Nevertheless, several challenges persist and demand attention to fully unlock the potential of this relationship, including regulatory frameworks and market access. A significant opportunity for increased trade and investment between the EU and Africa lies in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which establishes a single market of over 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP exceeding €3 trillion. By proactively addressing these challenges and capitalizing on opportunities like the AfCFTA, the EU and Africa can forge a robust economic partnership that mutually benefits both regions.

  • With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), what specific measures can the EU and Africa take to maximize the opportunities presented by this initiative and further enhance trade and investment between the two regions?
  • What role can public-private partnerships play in encouraging investments between Africa and the EU?
  • What are some of the success stories of EU investments in Africa, and how can they be replicated in other sectors?

Asma Ennaifer
VP Managing Director
Orange Digital Center Foundation

Shada Islam
EU Analyst

The Orange Digital Center stands as a virtuous example of a global practice, effectively addressing the crucial challenges of developing digital skills and promoting youth entrepreneurship in Africa. Through a variety of programs, the Orange Digital Center empowers African youth to leverage their potential and seize opportunities in the digital age. By bridging the digital divide and providing resources, knowledge, and support, this initiative acts as a catalyst for innovation, economic growth, and social empowerment across the continent. The Orange Digital Center stands as a beacon of good practice, illustrating the transformative impact that can be achieved by investing in the development of digital skills and nurturing entrepreneurial talent in Africa.

Charlina Vitcheva
Director General
DG MARE, European Commission

Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko
AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment

David Weiss
Up-scaling Programme

Johannes Bochdalofsky
Co-Founder & Project Lead

Flavien Kouatcha
Managing Director
“Save our agriculture”

Fatime Kante
Senior Economist
Blue Economy Department, Republic of Seychelles

The blue economy’s significance in contributing to Europe’s growth and transforming its economy into a competitive and resource-efficient one has been recognized. The African Union’s 2063 Agenda has identified the blue economy as Africa’s future, and in 2018, it generated €296 billion in value and created 49 million jobs. The maritime industry in Africa is estimated to be worth €1 trillion annually. To complement the 2050 Integrated Maritime Strategy and Blue Economy Strategy, the African Union has launched the African Ocean Governance Strategy. African national governments acknowledge the need to develop sustainable economic activities and are increasingly prioritizing the blue economy as a source of sustainable development, job creation, economic growth, and increased well-being.

  • What can be done to gain a better understanding of the existing and emerging blue economy potential in Africa?
  • How can interest from the investment community be increased to support the development of the blue economy in Africa?
  • What actions can be taken to increase insight into solutions that can contribute to unlocking the potential of the African blue economy?


Driving Environmental Transformation in Africa: The Role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at COP28

Franc Kamugysha

Christophe Yvetot
UNIDO Representative to the European Union, the European Investment Bank, OACPS, Belgium and Luxembourg

Hanan Sakr
Head of Private Sector engagement
COP28 Secretariat

Lyubov Pronina
Bloomberg News

In anticipation of the upcoming Cop28 initiative, this panel discussion focuses on the crucial role played by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in promoting sustainable business practices, mitigating climate change, and adopting strategic approaches to create a greener Africa. The conversation will showcase EcoPlastile, an innovative social enterprise in Uganda specializing in waste management and construction. By examining EcoPlastile as a case study, the discussion will shed light on the development of pioneering strategies to tackle urgent challenges such as plastic pollution, inadequate housing, unemployment, deforestation, and climate change. The panelists will emphasize the significance of incorporating sustainability into business models and will explore the economic benefits of pursuing a green economy in Africa. The objective of this discussion is to provide valuable insights into scalable solutions and to highlight the role of SMEs in leading environmental and socio-economic transformation across the African continent. 

  • How can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like EcoPlastile effectively contribute to mitigating climate change and addressing urgent environmental challenges in Africa?
  • What innovative strategies and business models can SMEs adopt to integrate sustainability into their operations and drive the transition to a greener economy in Africa?
  • What are some key strategies and policies that can support the growth and scalability of SMEs engaged in sustainable businesses, particularly in the context of waste management, construction, and other sectors with significant environmental implications?


Arnaud Thysen
Director General
European Business Summits


It is advised to take the public transport as parking space is not available at the Cercle Gaulois.

Metro stop: Arts-Loi, Parc

Bus stop: Parc