Over the last fourteen years, through the African Economic Forum, Columbia University has hosted many of the most prominent African leaders across business, politics, law, academia, and other fields.
These range from heads of State, central bank governors, CEOs of the continent’s largest firms, philanthropists, and groundbreaking entrepreneurs and innovators. Through this, the Forum engages students, faculty, professionals and members of the Columbia community in thinking about the opportunities and challenges facing the continent. By bringing together the African societies at Columbia Business School, Law School, School of International Public Affairs, and Mailman School of Public Health, the Forum is uniquely interdisciplinary, and draws from expertise across specialties.
Since the Forum’s founding, Columbia has played host to a broad range of important speakers, including:
The Forum has tracked changes in development and growth across the continent. Speaking in 2009, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explained the unique challenges of aid policy, financial reform, and economic stability across the continent. She spoke of the fertilizer crisis in Nigeria, and connected it to the global financial crisis ongoing at the time. But seven years later, Tony Elumelu, Chairman of the Elumelu Foundation closed the conference with a rousing message about the importance of driving forward entrepreneurship, education, and investment in youth.
We hope to continue to build upon and grow the African Economic Forum for many more years to come, without losing sight of the vision that underpins this event: one of creativity, commitment to an interdisciplinary approach, and belief in having African voices showcasing African narratives. The last fourteen years have demonstrated the value of bringing together leaders, students, and thinkers to the Columbia University campus to discuss the prospects and potential of the continent’s growth, and we look forward to continuing to contribute to these important conversations.
African Economic Forum Co-Chair, 2016