Africa Soft Power summit returns with 3-day session in Kigali

…announces May as ‘Africa Month’ amid sustainable collaborations

The 2022 Africa Soft Power ‘Africa Month’ Summit, hosted industry leaders, across the creative, cultural, knowledge and digital industries around the continent and global diaspora in Kigali to three days of impactful conversations, centered around the theme of ‘Africa & the Global Community. The New Face of Collaboration.”

Hosted by The Africa Soft Power Project (ASP) from May 26th – 28th, the summit which was held at Kigali Serena Hotel, featured sessions on sports, music, fashion, financing/digital infrastructure, tourism/trade and payments, with discussants highlighting how to leverage Africa’s digital, creative and knowledge economies to benefit the continent, the global diaspora community, and beyond.

Amadou Gallo Fall, president of the Basketball Africa League; Luol Ajou Deng, Two-time NBA All-Star; Gina Din-Kariuki, Founder, Gina Din Group (GDG); Matthew Ryder, Former Deputy Mayor of London and QC, Matrix Chambers; Jude ‘M.I’ Abaga, rapper, founder & CEO TASCK; Ngaire Blankenberg, Director, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art; Victor Williams, CEO, NBA Africa; Mike Ogbalu, CEO, Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS); and Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, regional director, East Africa, IFC; were among the array of industry leaders at the 2022 Africa Soft Power Summit.

While declaring the event open, Nkiru Balonwu, founder and creative director of the Africa Soft Power Project, expressed her excitement about the support received from discussants, partners and sponsors from within the continent and in the diaspora. “What we are witnessing today is evidence of what we can achieve for the continent, when we come together. Leveraging the power of collaboration, we are determined to build structures, talents and institutions that are long-lasting and survive us” Balonwu said.

“Across music, sports, fashion, art, innovation and digital capabilities, The Africa Soft Power Project is committed to enabling progress for Africa and Africans, we are leveraging soft power to create respected African thought-leaders, unite the global black community and ultimately chart a sustainable course around how we can propel ourselves and the continent forward” Balonwu added.

Amadou Gallo Fall, president of the Basketball Africa League, during his goodwill message, lauded the quality of influential panellists and industry leaders present at the 2022 summit, adding that such collaborations will help advance the African narrative, not just for sports but across other industries.

“At the Basketball Africa League, we are aligned with the objectives of the Africa Soft Power Project, around leveraging valuable collaborations to move the continent forward, which connects with what we are doing with the league.

“As you well know, basketball is a perfect sport, where fashion, music and sports come together and if you think about how the African “lifestyle” and popular culture have been an influence on the world stage, from music, to fashion and even the arts, you will agree that we have a great opportunity to bring all of that together around the BAL”

Speaking on the role of collaboration in advancing Africa’s payment ecosystem especially for Nigeria’s creative, knowledge and technology industries, Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, Regional Director, Eastern Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC) said that there was a need for valuable collaboration between financial institutions and the creative, knowledge and digital industries.

“Banks and financial institutions will only finance projects that they have full understanding of, If they don’t understand it, they will not finance it. It is important therefore, that financial institutions make a deliberate effort to understand the different phases of creative and digital engagements alongside the value that will be derived from such investments,” Jagun-Dokunmu said.

While delivering his Keynote address, Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the AfCFTA Secretariat, maintained that the recovery tool that Africa has at its disposal post Covid is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Read also: Africa Soft Power Summit: Stakeholders seek collaboration for progress in creative industry

“We expect that the recovery we want to see, whether in the service industry, trade in goods or digital trade, will be driven by trade on the African continent. We are committed to ensuring that we implement the AfCFTA, towards significantly reducing the barriers to trade and intra-Africa investment and ultimately, contributing to Africa’s overall GDP” Mene said.

Celebrating Africa’s unique creative, knowledge and digital industries, the Africa Soft Power ‘Africa Month’ summit featured a fireside chat, alongside eight impactful panel sessions on payments, economy of sports, scaling African talent, business of fashion, financing innovation and creative power, reinventing travel, tourism and trade, globalization of Africa’s music, culture and trends and women communicating Africa forward.

The event also featured a glam cocktail with a shoe show powered by Brazilian luxury brand Zeferino, performance by Rapper, Jude M.I. Abaga, a book signing by Gina Din and a session on the Power of Art, held in partnership with ARTSPLIT and FCMVA, alongside networking activities, and local events.

With stakeholders at the event collectively throwing their weight behind the announcement, Nkiru Balonwu, founder and creative director of the Africa Soft Power Project, disclosed that ASP will continue to promote May as ‘Africa month’, as part of a deliberate global campaign aimed at propelling Africa forward, leveraging the continent’s creative, knowledge, cultural and digital industries.

Partners for this year’s summit, include: RDF; Afreximbank, Macif Group; Facebook; Africa Prosperity Network; FCMVA; Zeferino; Artsplit; CANEX; Kwahu Summit; Korapay; Latimer Energy; Fenchurch Group; TASCK; and BellaNaija.

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