Africa Soft Power Summit Returns to Kigali

Africa Soft Power Summit Returns to Kigali

…expanded programme includes Women’s Leadership Conference, and awards celebrating African innovators

Kigali, Rwanda – Following the resounding success of its previous edition, the Africa Soft Power Summit, returned to Kigali with an impactful 5-day programme.

The event which took place at the prestigious Kigali Serena Hotels, between May 24th and 27th 2023, represents the highest-level convening of the African creative, knowledge and digital sectors, bringing together public and private sector organizations, as well as pioneering individuals from the fields of business, finance, law, media, technology, sports, art, entertainment, academia, philanthropy and politics.

This year’s summit featured three key events: the Creative and Innovative Industries Conference, alongside the RAW Women’s Leadership Conference and the Africa Soft Power Gala & Awards both in their inaugural editions.

Adefunke Adeyemi, Secretary General, The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC); Amb. Amina Mohamed, Fmr. Minister for Sports, Education & Foreign Affairs Kenya; Ozonnia Ojielo, Resident Coordinator and Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Rwanda; HRH Nnaemeka A. Achebe, King of Onitsha/Chairman, Unilever Nigeria; Chike Obianwu, Deputy Managing Partner, Templars; Clare Akamanzi, CEO, Rwanda Development Board; Michelle Moore, Author & UK’s 50 Most ‘Influential Women in Sports; Victor Williams, CEO, NBA Africa; Kaniaru Wacieni, Senior Investment Director, Africa50; Adebola Toyin Oruma, Group Head, Gender Business Group, Bank of Industry; Rosa Nduati Mutero Managing Partner, Anjarwalla & Khanna; Zano Mataruka, Regional Representative, International Finance Corporation; Rosemary Akpo, Managing Director, EXP Marketing Nigeria; Farai Ncube, Regional Arts Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, British Council; Ego Boyo, Founder, Temple Productions and Balkissa Idé Siddo, Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Meta were among the array of leading African voices and bright minds at the 2023 Africa Soft Power Summit.
Founder and Creative Director, Africa Soft Power, Nkiru Balonwu, while declaring the event open, expressed her excitement about the significant progress made since the inception of the project, and thanked discussants, partners and sponsors from within the continent and diaspora for the support received. “We will continue to inspire greater collaboration between the creative and financial sectors, the public and private, individual entrepreneurs and companies, and beyond”.

“The creative, digital, and knowledge economies emerging today, represent the best opportunities for generating future growth for our young people. Our desire is to continuously leverage soft power and strategic collaborations to communicate modern Africa more accurately on the world stage” Balonwu added.

Speaking on the integral role that women play in the development of African society and customs, Adefunke Adeyemi, Secretary General, The African Civil Aviation Commission, (AFCAC), maintained that diversity inclusion and equality actually began in Africa, as women were integral to every single aspect of society, across leadership, agriculture and even warfare in the past. “The African woman needs to feel entitled in a positive way, to lead going forward, and this sense of ownership helps us change the dynamic and become the catalyst to achieve the inclusion that’s needed to achieve remarkable change” she said.
In her remarks, Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Fmr Minister For Sports, Education and Foreign Affairs, Kenya, called for inclusiveness and more women participation in politics for African women. “The African woman must be prepared to rise above negativities and insecurities to take up more leadership positions and be ready to give and show excellence when they eventually attain those positions”.

For Chike Obianwu, Deputy Managing Partner, Templars, supporting women for more leadership positions is not only a matter of political correctness, but also a business imperative. “At Templars, we understand the significant role that inclusivity plays in sustainable businesses and we are ensuring diversity across our entire chain of operations, from the top to the bottom”.
During the packed-out week, the sessions and activities brought together leaders from the creative and digital economies, as well as foremost figures from the continent’s business landscape, to form clear pathways to economic growth for African women, youth and the wider global community.

The inaugural the RAW Women’s Leadership Conference, featured insights and knowledge sharing from women leaders across Africa on what it takes to push the reset button on traditional gender discourse and create true diversity, equality, and inclusion, while the Creative and Innovative Industries Conference examined how the African creative sectors can deliver growth and return on the continent, and better tell the modern African story on the world stage. Closing out the main conference days, the Africa Soft Power Gala & Awards was a glittering occasion that featured award presentations to some of Africa’s leading soft power players, and innovators propelling Africa forward.

The Summit’s programming ended with a masterclass for photographers and interested creatives on linking creative endeavour with commercial viability, delivered by Illume Creative Studios and the Business of Photography. A workshop on “Youth Power & Building Movements: Security, Climate Change, & DEI”, also featured the announcement of the inaugural Climate Change Photo Essay Prize – a partnership between Africa Soft Power & African Women on Board, as part of the Road to 100 Million Climate Soldiers in Africa campaign.

Partners for this year’s summit, include: Templars, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, Bank of Industry, United Nations Office in Rwanda, EXP, FCMVA, Africa Prosperity Network, Africa Women on Board, BellaNaija, Trace, NewsCentral, African Business, Asaase Radio, Basketball Africa League, among others.

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