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Hogan Lovells

From tech to entrepreneurship, clean energy to trade, Global law firm, Hogan Lovells has lined up panellists and speakers for its eighth annual Africa Forum.

The topics, according to the law firm, will lead the discussions on Africa’s growth at one of the leading business conferences on the continent.

This highly anticipated event returns for the first time in a hybrid format, taking place on Wednesday, 20 October 2021 in London and on a dedicated virtual platform accessible to participants all over the world. It will delve deep into business-critical dialogues surrounding Africa’s recovery, growth and sustainability, and how to keep “Africa Connected”.

“We at Hogan Lovells are very excited to have so many influential and respected industry leaders and decision-makers at this year’s Africa Forum,” says Andrew Skipper, Head of Hogan Lovells Africa Practice.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former President of Liberia and Nobel Laureate gave an impassioned keynote speech at the last edition of the conference.

“This year, we will have another esteemed global leader share their knowledge and expertise on doing business in Africa and offer insight into how they are working hard to minimise the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said.

The 2021 Africa Forum comes during the second year since the onset of the global pandemic, which has had and will continue to have, a fundamental impact on the way business is done across the continent, from within Africa and outside Africa.

The additional burden of climate change, which the continent is one of the most vulnerable to – although it contributes the least to global warming – makes the issue of sustainability a relevant but complex focus area for how Africa’s industries can grow. The Africa Connected themed event will consist of four central tenants, all having Africa’s growth and transformation as their focus. These sessions will include:

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CEO Corner

Firstly, the CEO Corner, a session that promises to ensemble industry stalwarts who have unrivalled experience on the continent across a range of key sectors and will have speakers such as Seelan Gobalsamy – CEO, Omnia Group; Roz Thomas – CEO Africa, Hill+Knowlton Strategies; and Olugbenga Agboola – Chief Executive Officer: Flutterwave.

Clean energy transition

As Africa’s energy requirements continue to increase, the organisers of the conference said there was a need to have a session that speaks to clean energy.

Faced with a growing energy deficit, there has, in recent years, been significant investment in developing Africa’s renewable energy generation capacity, principally through the construction of solar, wind and other renewable energy capacities, according to them.

Africa still remains heavily reliant on coal, gas, fuel oil, diesel and other forms of hydrocarbon-based power generation to satisfy its energy requirements.

“This panel will consider some of the key factors which are holding back African’s continuing transition to clean energy and how these might be overcome, addressing topics such as climate adaption, climate financing, COP26, just transition, carbon capture, power first and blended finance.”

The panel will be chaired by Arun Velusami – Partner, Hogan Lovells London. Panellists will include John Lewis – CEO, Aggreko; Janet Rogan – COP26 Regional Ambassador: Middle East and Africa; Damilola Agbaje – Investment Principal, AIIM Africa; and Arnaud Schalk – Investment Officer: Offgrid Energy Africa, Proparco.

Technology

Technology and innovation are undoubtedly at the heart of Africa’s connectedness, but the conversation needs a broader view. The panel will address how Africa is connecting with the world and itself, and what connections are critical to truly move the needle.

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The panel will be chaired by Aissatou Sylla – Senior Associate, Hogan Lovells Paris. Speakers will include Samatar Omar Elmi – Chief ICT Specialist, African Development Bank Group; Olufemi Daniel – VC AU Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA NITDA) Nigeria; Betre Gizaw – Legal and Regulatory Lead, Paystack; and Jesus Mantas – Managing Partner, IBM.

Regional Debate

The conference organisers have encourages the African business community to join prominent officials from wide-ranging parts of the world and the development landscape as they discuss and explore what African governments and regional/foreign investors can and are doing to advance connectedness and collaboration on the continent, whether in the community, country and/or region in which they operate.

This session is designed to generate lively discussion amongst contemporaries from the private and public sectors in order to build a broad picture of where they think the continent is heading. The panel will be chaired by Andrew Skipper – Head of Hogan Lovells Africa Practice. Among the speakers will be Gordon Welsh – Head of the Business Group and Executive Committee Member, UK Export Finance.

Impact Investing – Fallacy or Fundamental?

As investors are increasingly turning to strategies that embed sustainability and targeting enterprises that impact all stakeholders and communities beneficially, “sustainable finance” has been tagged as the buzzword in finance in 2021.

“Africa should be benefiting from this growing appetite. But it is not? Why? There should be plenty of opportunities including sustainable infrastructure, housing, and education. Can technology be the solution – bridging the data gap between investors and enterprises?” Skipper questioned.

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The panel will be chaired by Andrew Carey – Senior Counsel and Co-Head of Sustainable Financing & Investing, Hogan Lovells. Panellists for this session will include Geetha Tharmaratnam – CEO and Founding Partner at Aequalitas Capital Partners; Lawrence Wintermeyer – Executive Co-Chair and Guarantor at Global Digital Finance; and Liz Lloyd – Chief Impact Officer at CDC.

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