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Developing Talent for Africa Virtual Forum

In this unique, virtual forum, speakers focus on the future that Africa wants and the power of its people to achieve it. It highlights the monumental importance of leadership, management, and entrepreneurship across sectors and across the continent. The aims are to explore the challenges of building education and development capacity and aligning it with the needs of a rapidly changing continent. The conversations are built to review new opportunities for innovation and collaboration—especially across business and business schools—to overcome these challenges.

Convened by the Global Business School Network and its first corporate member, Ecobank Academy, this virtual forum was born out of the belief that no sector—business, government, education, or non-profit—can make meaningful progress alone, especially in a such an incredibly diverse, complex, and dynamic environment as Africa. Indeed, we view collaboration between the sectors as absolutely necessary to achieve the future that Africa wants. The space between the sectors holds the greatest potential for innovative solutions.

While the forum is focused on building the capabilities of Africans for Africa, it is intentionally global in three ways. First, Africa invites the world—especially its business schools and company-based learning and development professionals—to participate meaningfully in its development. Second, Africa plays a pivotal role in the future of global society and the planet—it must assert its rightful place in world. Third, Africa is an inspiration and catalyst for innovation and change around the world. The rest of the world can learn from what Africa does.

While specific topics vary across the webinars in the series, there are several underlying themes. First is the importance of Pan-African solidarity and solutions. Economic integration and international cooperation are essential, especially as it relates to the mobility of workers, learners, and ideas. Second, is the central role of technology. It is the primary driver of change and its biggest enabler, specifically in the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It also raises important questions about inclusion and sustainability that must be addressed. Third, markets alone cannot achieve the vision for Africa—market failures can and do exist and government involvement and support are necessary.

This exciting and paramount series consists of five sessions. The first explores the changing global landscape for talent and the special challenges that Africa faces when it comes to developing leadership, management, and entrepreneurship talent. In each of the three sessions that follow, we will address (a) transformative innovation and entrepreneurship; (b) digital transformation and labor market changes; and (c) the business of sustainability. The fifth and final session returns to the world to consider Africa’s future a global power.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Session Line-Up

Session 1: Africa’s Talent Challenges in a Changing World

In this kickoff session, panelists will touch on the broad range of pressing talent challenges that will be had throughout the series and provide a bird’s eye view of how these relate to Agenda 2063, and the Africa that Africans want.  Join us as we address issues such as Pan-African integration in a de-globalizing world, harnessing a youthful African workforce in an aging global society, AI and the impact of automation everywhere, developing relevant educational opportunities for African business, and so much more.  Africa in the Context of the world invites the rest of the global community to hear from African leaders, themselves, and how we can work cohesively to truly create the future of the continent.

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Session 2: Transformative Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation and entrepreneurship not only increase productivity in existing industries and create jobs, they can transform economies and societies. This session focuses on developing talent for transformative leadership, the kind that can build a more inclusive and sustainable Africa. It explores the role of business and business schools as catalysts and enablers of innovation and entrepreneurship. It considers opportunities to strengthen collaboration across disciplines, borders, and sectors to enable Africa to leap ahead in efforts to achieve Agenda 2063.

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Session 3: The Future Workforce – Learning and Development in the Fourth Industrial Revolution  

Africa’s most powerful resource is its people. In a world of shrinking working-age populations, favorable demographics point to substantial opportunity within Africa. But there is no guarantee that the demographics will translate into greater prosperity. Join us in this session, as we tackle some of the more pressing questions related to Africa and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Does Africa have the capacity to educate the young while delivering on the growing needs for upskilling and reskilling the workforce? How is technology changing the mix of knowledge and skills that African organizations need?  What are the specific sector needs, such as health care, government, and finance? How are new technologies, and increasing experiences in using them, creating new opportunities that make education both more effective and more accessible? 

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Session 4: The Business of Sustainable Development

Africa accounts for 17% of the world’s population yet emits less than 5% of the world’s carbon emissions. Africa boasts a massive talent population, but also demonstrates the highest rate of education exclusion. It is a continent rich in resources, talent potential, and innovation, but lacks the necessary tools to expand its portfolio in sustainable ways.  Session four investigates the various components of sustainable development, from female participation in the workforce to healthcare resources to relevant education, and what the continent is doing to address some of these broader goals.  Africa is leading the way in the business of UN Sustainable Development Goal relevancy, but what is holding its people back from success?  This session will explore relevant struggles in the integration of the SDG initiatives, as well as provide an engaging discussion of what can be done going forward to achieve these broader goals.

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Session 5: Africa in the Global Setting — Coming Full Circle

As we come full circle in the final session of the forum, we will be wrapping up these important conversations as we discuss Africa’s leadership, management, and entrepreneurship capacity in the global setting.  Africa is a changing environment as the young talent seeks greater education, entrepreneurs are hungry entering the fourth industrial revolution, and government solutions are leaning towards the sustainable formal economy.  Africa is rising as a global player and is a true beneficiary in the global arena and we are here to celebrate that, as well as help the rest of the world to benefit from it.

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