AFRICAN DIASPORA NETWORK IMPACT & INNOVATION SPEAKER SERIES
Human Capital Development - Innovation - Entrepreneurship - Investment
September 17, 2019 | Washington, D.C.
On September 17, African Diaspora Network hosted its second annual convening in Washington, D.C. in partnership with International Organization for Migration (IOM), USAID, and the Wilson Center. Held at the Symantec headquarters, “Partnerships and Policies for Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Investment” drew a full house of attendees comprised of entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and representatives of the public and private sectors. The convening addressed issues imperative to the diaspora and the communities in which we live, with the goal of driving critical conversations on how strategic private-public partnerships can be leveraged to support relevant stakeholders toward a common vision of achieving self-reliance and prosperity in Africa for all.
Mr. Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa, USAID, set the context by providing opening remarks. “It is critical that we support innovation, entrepreneurship, the know-how of local and international businesses, and the sustainability of market-based solutions all around the world,” said Day. Day introduced the administration’s latest Prosper Africa initiative that seeks to increase two-way trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa. “If we really work together, and the U.S. government has a lot to do, we can play an important role in advancing these goals.”
The opening panel, “Engaging the African and Middle Eastern Diaspora,” framed the day’s thematic look at partnerships and policies by examining key questions and issues on diaspora engagement. Through a parallel look at both diasporic communities, panelists identified existing gaps, challenges, and some potential opportunities for more effective engagement. The following session, “Tapping into the Diaspora’s Potential: Policies, Knowledge Exchange, and Technology Innovations,” honed in on key areas of engagement and important technological innovations for enhancing relationships within the diaspora and policies to facilitate those innovations.
The afternoon topical sessions began with a panel discussion on “Prosper Africa—Trade and Investment Opportunities in Africa.” Panelists examined possible approaches for economic growth in developing sustainable partnerships between the U.S. and Africa, including a look at USAID’s trade and investment programs. “We have to look at every avenue to engage business,” says Amanda MacArthur, CPO of PYXERA Global. “It may start with CSR and alignment. There are opportunities to create programming and training for local businesses to seize new opportunities.”
Participants also learned about the USAID Power Africa initiative through the session “Unlocking Africa’s Energy Sector Potential.” Power Africa launched in 2013 to increase the number of people with access to power through partnerships among technical and legal experts, the private sector, and government. Panelists explored how partnership can be leveraged to achieve this goal.
The final afternoon session, “Africa Feeding Africa: Transforming Africa’s Agricultural Sector through Private and Public Partnerships,” explored the importance of streamlining partnerships for imports and exports, and tapping into the continent’s agricultural potential and abundance in natural resources such as land, livestock, and agricultural value chains.
The day-long convening concluded with brief remarks by Almaz Negash, Founder and Executive Director of ADN. Almaz reflected on the opportunities and challenges of bringing Africans together. She reminded the audience that when we speak about Africa, we are talking about 54 countries with different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and priorities. It is for this very reason that ADN is committed to bringing Africans and friends of Africa together to work together to promote collaboration and action. The convening ended with an evening reception where participants had the opportunity to network and continue discussions with key panelists after the conclusion of the event.
The 2019 D.C. convening is a part of ADN’s Impact & Innovation Speaker Series that brings together Africans, diasporans, and friends of Africa from sectors ranging from government to business to NGOs to academia in order to strengthen partnerships and advance the development of the African continent. ADN gathers at key national hubs of influence, including Silicon Valley, the center of innovation and entrepreneurship; New York, the center of finance; and Washington, D.C., the center of diplomacy and policy.
Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible!
Sponsors: Symantec, USA for IOM, and M&T Bank
Organizing Partners: USA for IOM, USAID, and the Wilson Center
Community supporters: PYXERA Global, Garfield Law Group, ZAAF, Dama Pastry, Group Travel Services, Fairland International Market, and Joanne Specialty Fabrics