Set in the welcoming and relaxing city of Maputo, the African Economic Summit (AES), as always, turned out to be a well attended and fascinating affair. This was despite the dominance of participants from Southern Africa and the shortage of delegates from North Africa and Francophone countries.
The African Economic summit attracted a large number of leaders from politics, art and business from more than 43 countries. Hosted for the first time in Maputo, the AES was a huge success. Except for the wait on arrival at Maputo for visas, the organisation was first class.
The conference centre, built to host last year's AU summit was ideal. It was close to town and there was an electronic networking system enabling participants to send instant messages to each other, as well as a high speed internet connection for all participants.
In last month's African Business cover story--Cut the Talk, Walk the Walk--we speculated on what would be achieved at the forum. These gatherings are not designed to produce concrete action plans but they provide ideal opportunities to gather top people and get them to exchange ideas. They also provide opportunities for small enterprises and entrepreneurs seeking new business opportunities.
One was also able to gauge the current state of play in Africa by the complexity and sophistication of the issues being discussed. President Chissano, for example, told African Business, "we have gone from asking 'why don't you do this and that' to 'how have you done this and that'".
Sir Mark Moody-Stewart, chairman of Anglo American and co-chair of the summit, described the forum to African Business thus: "It's a chance to get people together, ensure we are all communicating and that there is a general alignment in policies, schools of thought, ideas. It is an ideal place to measure progress and it is an enabling mechanism. There has been progress, for example Nepad and the APRM, even if it isn't as quick as some people would desire. Also Mozambique did a fantastic job hosting this event, and making it enjoyable for everyone."
The topics …