AAI, in coordination with Columbia’s SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN) and New York’s PBS station WNET Channel 13, hosted a screening of the newly revised and expanded version of Carol Pineau’s documentary film Africa: Open for Business at Columbia University’s Roone Arledge Auditorium. Ms. Pineau was on hand to provide remarks, making the message of her film clear: Africa is a land of opportunity and business pioneers.
Approximately 500 attendees, which included business and NGO leaders, students and community members, were present to learn about businessmen and women from across Africa who had spotted opportunity in their country and capitalized on it. After the film, a panel of experts moderated by Columbia Business School Professor, Murray B. Low, discussed how this entrepreneurial spirit is being encouraged. Former stockbroker and financial consultant, Thomas Mimms, cited the success of stock exchanges in Ghana, Egypt, Uganda and South Africa as a major mechanism for African growth. In recent years, he said, these exchanges have regularly been amongst the best performing capital markets in the world.
South African Consul, Ivan Vosloo, explained how South African banks are conducting brisk business, providing loans to startup firms in many African countries. With its largely unbiased view of the continent, South Africa has been key to Africa’s business successes due to its modern financial institutions. Pooling their efforts and resources in the form of regional economic blocs, African governments are taking action, too. Alice M. Dear, former U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank, praised efforts to coordinate economic policy through regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States.