The 8th edition of the Rebranding Africa Forum (RAF) will be held in Brussels, in Belgium on October 21, 2022. The focus of this second post-Covid edition will be on the attractiveness of the continent. This being of the same level of importance as the quest of the initiators of the Forum centred on improving Africa’s image and promoting its assets more effectively. The challenge is therefore that of the political, economic, ecological, academic, cultural, professional, educational, techno-scientific, aestheticization of the continent, in order to break down the many cognitive biases that characterize the perception of African countries (even by some Africans) and to build or strengthen the confidence of partners and stakeholders in the ongoing development processes.
However, considering the latest resurgence of rush of economic powers towards Africa, it may seem paradoxical to consecrate the 2022 edition of the RAF to the problem of the attractiveness of the continent, this being visibly manifest, and the question therefore solved or over. This however would seem as if we are ignoring that one of the main drawbacks of the attractiveness of Africa, putting it tersely is that, it remains comparable to that of the cash cow, whose existence is meaningless and useless unless it produces milk. Subservient, the milk cow is reputed to have no emancipatory ambition, and even if it were to have any, it would stop where that of the cowherd or the milker begins.
No one can reasonably rejoice in an “attractiveness” that is as mystifying as it is alienating. Mystification demonstrated in whatever parameters considered and institutes consulted such that most African countries are ranked at the bottom of the scale in terms of the overall attractiveness index. If we refer for example to the indicators of the Venture Capital and Private Equity Country Attractiveness Index of 2021, the first African country, South Africa, comes in the fortieth position. Out of a total of one hundred and twenty-five examined, sixteen of the last twenty-five are African.
The challenge is therefore how to get Africa out of this attractiveness devoid of any real emancipatory perspective?
How to build genuine attractiveness, that of a homo economicus or economic actor who develops strategies aimed at attracting partners, no longer to extract and export his resources, but to extract and transform them himself before use or export? , to optimize its potential, to make the best and longest use of its wealth and assets, its competitive advantages, its investments, its businesses and activities, its skills, with a view to achieving his desires for freedom, prosperity and welfare?
In an economic environment that is globally open and governed by power struggles and the quest for profit, being attractive means above all being competitive. This is why the authentic attractiveness envisaged here cannot be decreed or arise ex nihilo. It is or will be the result of a multi-faceted and multi-sectorial process, the essential prerequisite being the mobilization of analytical and strategic instruments to make an integral and uncompromising diagnosis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of African countries, and therefore to their attractiveness. The comparison of this internal diagnosis with the analysis of the global economic environment will then make it possible to identify appropriate therapies, competitiveness and attractiveness strategies, indicated synergies, etc. It will allow African countries to build dynamic attractiveness indices themselves, more rooted in their specific realities, rather than leaving the exclusive privilege to foreign institutions, whose economic returns have rarely demonstrated their effectiveness. It would thus allow Africa to show itself as it is, with its strengths and weaknesses, its opportunities and its challenges, and therefore as it would like to be seen.
It is this substantive work that will ensure that Africa’s attractiveness strategies are no longer considered essentially as those of a land (soil and subsoil) seeking takers at the best price. Instead they will be considered as those of a continent wishing to attract the appropriate partners to make the best use of its multiple human and material resources, in order to achieve, through the strategies, plans and processes previously defined, its wish for emergence.
This paradigm shift in attractiveness therefore indicates the need to focus upstream on the priorities to be defined, the prospects for transformation to be considered, the coherence and compliance required at the political, economic, legal, etc. levels, the breaks and restarts to be undertaken, the new projects to be initiated , the new avenues to explore, the structural innovations to aim for, the plans to be drawn up, the action plans to be carried out, etc.. All of these must inspire, guide and lead the development of the continent’s attractiveness strategies.
It is in the light of these requirements that the 8th edition of the Rebranding Africa Forum aims to globally analyse the strategies (or lack of strategies) of attractiveness of African countries, to list proven good practices and to formulate recommendations for the use of States and non-State actors, investors, banks, insurers, companies, and other experts etc., who will meet in Brussels on October 21, 2022.