Oxford Business Forum Africa 2017
The 2017 Oxford Business Forum Africa commenced with a Gala Dinner on Friday the 9th of March in the historic Balliol College dining hall. Attendees were treated to great speeches by brilliant figures in the African business landscape such as James Mwangi [Executive Director of Dalberg] and Themba Baloyi [Founder and Executive Director of Discovery Insure].
Those who think they’re too big to do little things are often too little to do big things
This quote from James Mwangi, resonated with me as well as a good number of the people I interacted with after dinner. Mwangi is a refreshing, engaging speaker. His advice to Africans in the diaspora looking to go back home and “change” things was simple but not something that is often heard in spaces like this. Among other things, he said not to go back thinking you know it all, and have all the answers… not to go back without an attempt to understand the context or environment, or to assume everything is exactly the same as you last left it.
The main conference was held at the Nelson Mandela Lecture theatre at the Said Business School, and was very well-attended with a diverse crowd of participants and speakers from within Oxford and the UK as well as the USA, Europe and African countries.
The first keynote speaker was Sudanese-born Dr Mo Ibrahim, telecommunications magnate turned founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which focuses on strengthening governance and leadership in Africa. He spoke passionately about the thinking behind the establishment of the prize named after him, doing business in Africa and his organisation’s confident insistence on awarding excellent leaders according to their strict criteria. On the latter subject, notably, he declared that “The Mo Ibrahim Prize is an award for excellence – it is not a pension.” The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has raised eyebrows some years for declaring that no former African president was deemed worthy of the grand prize, and Dr Ibrahim’s quip was in reference to this.
Some of the other speakers were Dr Carlos Lopes [former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and currently visiting fellow at the Oxford Martin School], Ambassador Amina Mohammed [Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya] and Phuti Mahanyele [Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital].
Tags: Africa Oxford, Africa Oxford Business