Fortaleza, Brazil, November 24th. Brazil Africa Forum came to an end with strengthened commitments and new partnerships to stimulate Brazil-Africa relations. The two-day event maintained nearly 16 hours of live programming, broadcasted in three languages (English, Portuguese and French), reaching an audience of approximately two thousand spectators during the live broadcast alone.
Promoted by Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF) and co-organized with the Southbridge group, Brazil Africa Forum 2021 brought together virtually 80 high-level speakers to discuss the main theme “Natural Resources: environmental protection and sustainable development”.
At the opening ceremony, the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, made a clear speech about the importance of Brazil seeking to reconnect with African continent. He declared that the strengthening of African and Latin American economies enables the creation of culturally, politically and economically strong blocks.
“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 views about the current political situation in Brazil, arguing that the country urgently needs to return to a “democratic government”. “Brazil urgently needs to have a democratic government again. To have a more beneficial view of the world so that we can return to invest in Africa.”
His message was endorsed by former Ghana President John Kufuor, who added his insights into achieving a more united and sustainable world. We are in an era where no nation, no one, no continent can stand in isolation or be an island. This is an era of interdependence.” – John A. Kufuor
He spoke about the importance of discussions at the Brazil Africa Forum. “The meeting at the Forum must be a place of celebration. A celebration for humanity. A celebration of what the future holds when humanity works together and in cooperation”.
During the first day, the event featured discussions on land, forests, mining, governance, agriculture, climate-smart food systems, renewable energy, environmental protection and emerging economies, involving notable speakers such as former Prime Minister of Benin, founder and partner Southbridge group administrator Lionel Zinsou; former World Bank vice president Otaviano Canuto; senior vice president for East Africa in the OCP Fayçal Benameur group; and Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director general of FAO.
Opening the second day of BAF 2021, Brazil Africa Institute recognized Dr. Benedict Oramah, president of Afreximbank, as Person of the Year for Brazil-Africa Relations. “We are happy with the leadership we see at IBRAF and we continue our partnership with Brazil given our historic and lasting cooperation. I am very happy and grateful to receive this award” – Dr. Benedict Oramah
Southbrigde Founder and Managing Partner, Special Envoy for the African Union and Global Fund leader Donald Kaberuka discussed Africa’s commitments towards sustainable development and policy review within the continent, revealing many opportunities. New investment opportunities and projects connecting Brazil and African countries were the key to the discussions.
Speaking on financing projects for economic development, Serge Ekué, President of the Development Bank for West Africa (BOAD) and Sérgio Suchodolski, President of the Minas Gerais Development Bank (BDMG) and the Brazilian Development Association (ABDE), spoke of the new challenges that climate change is imposing on the world.
“Our biggest challenge is to face the events of climate change. We need to fund a new world, a world with information technology and infrastructure,” said Suchodolski. Committed to opening up new opportunities, Brasil Africa Institute and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), represented by its CEO Patrick Dlamini, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the organizations, focusing on using Brazilian experiences to empower women and African youth in strategic sectors.
The MoU is expected to generate a technical training program to be rolled out in South Africa by 2022, covering agriculture, food production, industry and renewable energy. The Southbrigde Group had the space to announce new decarbonisation initiatives in Africa, especially focused on forestry management and electric mobility. “What we learned during the pandemic changed our daily practices. We are focusing much more on what has been shown and accelerated during the pandemic, namely people’s issues” said Managing Partner Lionel Zinsou.
The urgent need for a climate transition was reinforced in a special conversation with Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Assistant UN Secretary General and Director General of African Risk Capacity. “Although we in Africa do not contribute that much in carbon emissions, we are also particularly affected by climate change,” said Diong.
On a critical issue, senior partner and CEO of Southbridge Investments Frannie Leautier and World Resources Institute President Ani Dasgupta emphasized the complexity of water governance issues in sub-Saharan Africa: “Climate change increases water scarcity while countries demands for water is exploding due to rapid urbanization. As COP 27 will be the first COP to take place in Africa, we have an opportunity to dig deep into these issues and innovate, just as we have done with telecoms, commerce and now energy,” emphasized Leautier.
Drinkable water, water resources management, oceans, blue economy, strategic partnerships, triangular cooperation and ESG in the private sector were also key issues discussed in panels bringing together names such as José Graziano, former director general of FAO; Carlos Lopes, Honorary Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, Jorge Chediek, UNDP special advisor, Henrique Pissaia, general coordinator of strategic alliances at FLONPATA; Helder da Costa, Secretary General of the G7+, Jennifer Blanke, Non-Executive Director of African Risk Capacity and Natalia Dias, CEO of Standard Bank Brazil.
After two intense days, the President of Brazil Africa Institue, Prof. João Bosco Monte, prospected a positive future for the relationship of both regions but drew attention: “None of the ideas exchanged and discussed at the Brazil Africa Forum have value if they are not transformed into actions”– João Bosco Monte
BAF 2021 was sponsored by Afreximbank, Southern African Development Bank (DBSA), African Union, Standard Bank, OCP Group, Minas Gerais Development Bank (BDMG), AGRA, Brazafric Empreendimentos, Brazilian Development Association (ABDE).