The ShapeAfrica2017 conference started on a high note at the headquarters of the African Union earlier today. The three-day conference heard from Yohannes Tilahun, the CEO of Ethiopian Tourism Organization and Kassim M. Khamis (PhD), the architect of the much talked about Agenda 2063 of the African Union this morning.
Yohannes talked on his own biography, which included having taken almost a decade to finish his first degree and later transitioning into a high level Wall Street employment while Kassim reflected on the vision of a continent that is moving in the right direction.
Partly a pipe dream, but mostly an urge to help change the reality of an African society the Economist once called “The Hopeless Continent”, the delegates reflected on how to change the image of a broken society for the better and wanting to emulate the successes of others within Africa. “How can we start discussing breaking barriers if we don’t even understand the barriers,” one participant said.
The gathering had delegates, not just within the continent, but from Europe and East Asia. The Reporter spoke to a few and they seemed excited to be in Ethiopia and discuss among their peers the challenges of the world. “I couldn’t think of a better place than the African Union (AU) to kick-off the World Economic Forum Global Shapers,” Akilnathan Logeswaran wrote on Twitter.
“I am European and I am excited to be at the African Union where our ideals (the African and the European Union) are moving in the same direction,” he told The Reporter. “In Europe, we just succeeded convincing parliamentarians the idea of affording a free pass to young people to travel across Europe. African Union should follow our suit”.
“I traveled 16 hours to be here and I am excited,” Kosuke Kitabot told The Reporter. “Africa should build its capacity and focus on the IT infrastructure that has been rewarding to Japan.”
The organizers confirmed to The Reporter 75 delegates out of the over 100 that registered are attending today’s session while more are expected to arrive for day two tomorrow. The conference is to run until Saturday and this afternoon, it heard from PTA bank president, Admassu Tadesse and Eleni Gebremedhin (PhD), a youth advocate and one-time CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange was in attendance.
In a related news, many of the shapers seemed excited with the upcoming sold-out weekend concert of Nigerian Superstar WizKid. Many participants were sending an open invitation to him as the artist announced his return to the capital on his popular Twitter account. However, The Reporter was unable to confirm if he had accepted the invitation despite repeated calls to his management office.
“Join us for #ShapeAfrica2017,” Marcello Schermer, one of the shapers Twitted to the artist. “We will also be at your show!”