Meet the leaders and nations attending the 2024 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Dallas

Source: Dallas Morning News

Global leaders and prominent business figures have arrived in Dallas for the 2024 U.S. – Africa Business Summit to analyze and brainstorm on how to capitalize on Africa’s growing population and business climate.

The event, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, is expected to host 1,500 attendees at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from Monday to Thursday. Dozens of speeches, panels and roundtable conversations will focus on how to maximize Africa’s business potential to Texas and the rest of the world.

Joao Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola

At least five African presidents will be in attendance during the summit. But perhaps one of the biggest figures is Joao Lourenço, the President of the Republic of Angola. Lourenço, 70, represents one of the largest African countries in Angola as the country has a population of over 35 million.

More importantly to the business executives in the room, Angola had a GDP output of $106.8 billion in 2022. Oil and gas entrepreneurs may be in luck if they can reel a conversation with Lourenço as Angola, like Texas, prides itself on its oil output.

Angola’s oil industry is responsible for approximately half of the country’s GDP and over 90% of the country’s exports, according to the International Trade Administration.

Lourenço is the former vice president of Angola’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, a social democratic party in the nation. He came to power in 2017 and ran on a platform promising to bring more transparency to the nation’s government.

Dallas business leaders may see a part of themselves in the Lourenço as part of his platform and presidency has been focused on diversifying Angelo’s economy to attract powerful foreign investors.

Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana

Botswana’s President, Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi, 61, leads a nation of 2.6 million that looks for diamonds in the rough, literally.

With a GDP of over $20 billion, Masisi and Botswana are heavily dependent on the diamond mining industry. Botswana, one of the fastest-growing countries in Africa, estimates that 90% of its total exports come from the diamond industry. In 2021, the country unearthed a 1,098-carat diamond, the third-largest gem-quality diamond that has ever been found.

Masisi, the former vice president of Botswana from 2014 to 2018, has been president since his term as vice president ended. He has a master of science degree from Florida State University, which he attended in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Beyond a focus on the diamond industry, Masisi has removed the country’s ban on elephant hunting and has voiced his support for “decriminalizing homosexuality.”

Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi

Agribusiness is promised to be one of the biggest industries covered at the event. Lazarus Chakwera, Malawi’s president, is the leader of one of Africa’s biggest agriculture influences.

Malawi has over 20 million residents and has a GDP of $13.16 billion which is heavily comprised and dependent on agriculture. The industry contributes to approximately 30% of Malawi’s GDP and is responsible for about 80% of its export earnings. More than 10 million people in the country work in the agriculture industry.

Chakwera, 69, is no stranger to the industry. When he was younger, he helped his family by working in the industry through subsistence farming. He’s been in office since 2014 and has taken on a big role in global politics since his inauguration.

He’s tried building stronger relationships with global powers like the United Kingdom, an effort that he promised would bring more environmentally friendly jobs to Malawi, and recently cut foreign trips for all government officials, including himself, by 50%.

The country’s economy is undergoing some difficult times as it fights inflation and an oil shortage as its currency recently faced a massive devaluation.

Joseph Boakai, President of the Republic of Liberia

Liberia, which stands for Land of the Free in Latin, is Africa’s oldest republic. The country, comprised of over 5 million, is still one of the most underdeveloped countries in Africa. But its president, Joseph Boakai, 79, is looking to change that.

The country has a GDP of over $4 billion and is relying on its raw materials, like diamond and gold deposits, to bring it to international prominence. Boakai, a Baptist and a deacon for the Effort Baptist Church, was the vice president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. He’s one of Africa’s most recently elected presidents after taking the role in January.

Boakai ran on a platform that criticized corruption in the country’s previous administration and promised to restore hope in citizens who have felt disenfranchised by Liberia’s politics. He also recently signed an executive order to establish the country’s first war crimes court.

Diversifying the country’s economy is still one of his top goals as he looks to increase the country’s productivity and output in sectors like energy, agriculture and technology.

José Maria Neves, President of the Republic of Cabo Verde

Cabo Verde is one of the smallest nations in Africa. The country has a population of nearly 600,000, about the size of Vermont, and has a GDP of $2.2 billion.

José Maria Neves, 64, has been in politics for the vast majority of his adult life but he inherited the presidency of Cabo Verde recently in 2021 after winning a tight election.

Unlike other African countries, Cabo Verde’s main economic output comes from commerce, tourism and transport. Those industries account for approximately 75% of the country’s GDP. Cabo Verde consists of 10 islands and 5 islets.

The country is one Africa’s most underdeveloped but Neves has hoped that by bringing advanced technology, like an increased presence of telecommunications, will help add transparency and jobs to the nation, he said in a 2023 speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

THE AUTHOR: Mejia-Hilario, ©2024 The Dallas Morning News.

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