Fortaleza, Brazil, November 24th – The Brazil Africa Forum has come to an end with commitments reinforced and new partnerships to come to boost Brazil – Africa relations. The two-days event held almost 16 hours of a three languages (English, Portuguese, French) live programme, reaching an audience of nearly two thousand viewers only during the livestreaming.
Hosted by the Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF) and co-organized with SouthBridge Group, BAF 2021 gathered virtually 80 high level speakers to address the main theme “Natural Resources: environmental protection and sustainable development”.
In the opening ceremony, former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made a clear statement on the importance of Brazil seeking to rebond with the African continent. He stated that the strengthening of African and Latin American economies makes it possible to form culturally, politically and economically strong blocs.
“If Africa is strong, if Latin America is strong. We form extraordinary blocks with a lot of economic strength, with a lot of political and cultural strength” – Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Lula shared his point of view on the current situation of Brazilian politics, arguing that the country urgently needs to return to a “democratic government”. “Brazil urgently needs to have a democratic government again. Having a more beneficial view of the world so that we can return to investing in Africa.”
His message was endorsed by former President of Ghana John Kufuor, who also added his perceptions for achieving a more united and sustainable world.
“We are in an era where no nation, no one, no continent can assert itself in isolation or be an island. This is an era of interdependence” – John A. Kufuor
He stated the importance of discussions held within BAF. “This meeting at the Forum should be a place of celebration. A celebration for humanity. A celebration of what the future holds when humanity works together and cooperates”.
During the first day, the event brought discussions on land, forests, mining, governance, agriculture, climate-smart food systems, renewable energies, environmental protection and emerging economies, engaging distinguished speakers like the former Prime-Minister of Benin and Founder and Managing Partner of Southbridge Lionel Zinsou; the former Prime-Minister of Ethiopia and Chairman of AGRA Hailemariam Desalegn; the former Brazilian Minister of Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues; former Vice-President of the World Bank Otaviano Canuto; Senior VP for East Africa at OCP Group Fayçal Benameur; Deputy Director General of FAO Maria Helena Semedo.
Launching the second day of BAF 2021, the Brazil Africa Institute acknowledged Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, as Personality of the Year for Brazil-Africa Relations.
“We are happy with the leadership that we see on IBRAF and we continue our partnership with Brazil given our long-lasting cooperation history. I’m very happy and thankful for receiving this award” – Dr. Benedict Oramah
The Founder and Managing Partner of SouthBridge, Special Envoy for the AU and Chairman of the Global Fund Donald Kaberuka addressed Africa’s commitment towards sustainable development and the review of policies within the continent, unveiling many opportunities.
New investment and project opportunities connecting Brazil and the African countries were a key for the discussions. Talking on financing projects for economic development, Serge Ekué, President of the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and Sérgio Suchodolski, President of the Development Bank of Minas Gerais (BDMG) and the Brazilian Development Association (ABDE) approached the new challenges climate change is imposing to the world. “Our greater challenge is to tackle the climate change events. We need to finance a new world, a world with information technology and infrastructure”, said Suchodolski.
Committed to open new opportunities, the Brazil Africa Institute and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, represented by its CEO Patrick Dlamini, announced the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between both organizations focusing on using Brazilian experiences for capacity-building of African youth and women in strategic sectors. The MoU is expected to result in a technical training program to be deployed in Southern Africa in 2022, covering agriculture, food production, industry and renewable energy.
The SouthBridge Group also took the stage to announce new decarbonization initiatives in Africa, specially focused on managing forestry and fostering electrical mobility. “What we have learned during the pandemic has changed our daily practices. We are focusing far more on what has been shown and accelerated during the pandemic, namely, the problems of the people”, said Managing Partner Lionel Zinsou.
The urgent need for a climate transition was also reinforced in a special conversation with Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Director General of the African Risk Capacity Group. “Although we, in Africa, don’t contribute too much to carbon emissions, we are also, and especially, severely affected by climate change”, said Diong.
Addressing a critical issue, Senior Partner and CEO SouthBridge Investments Frannie Leautier and President and CEO of the World Resources Institute Ani Dasgupta stressed the complexity of water governance issues in sub-Saharan Africa: climate change increases water scarcity while countries’ demand for water is exploding due to rapid urbanization. “Because COP 27 is going to be the first COP in Africa, we have an opportunity to dig deeper on these issues and innovate, just like we did with telecoms, banking and now, energy”, stressed Leautier.
Drinkable water, management of water resources, oceans, blue economy, strategic partnerships, triangular cooperation, ESG and the private sector were also key issues addressed in panels gathering names like José Graziano, Former Director-General of FAO; Carlos Lopes, Honorary Professor at Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, Jorge Chediek, UNDP Special Advisor; Henrique Pissaia, General Coordinator of Strategic Alliances of FONPLATA; Helder da Costa, General Secretary of G7; Jennifer Blanke, Non-executive Director at African Risk Capacity and Natalia Dias, CEO of Standard Bank Brazil.
After two intensive days, the President of the Brazil Africa Institute, Prof João Bosco Monte, prospected a positive future for the relationship of both regions but called for action.
“None of the discussed and exchanged ideas during the Brazil Africa Forum have value if they are not transformed into actions” – João Bosco Monte
BAF 2021 was sponsored by Afreximbank, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), African Union, Standard Bank, OCP Group, Development Bank of Minas Gerais (BDMG), AGRA, Brazafric Enterprises, Brazilian Development Association (ABDE).