Friends from Africa and the International Community,

It is with immense pride that COMESA Regional Investment Agency is co-organising the Africa 2018 Forum once again in cooperation with the Egyptian Government represented by Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation (MIIC), under the gracious patronage of H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The Africa 2018 Forum will feature top business leaders from the continent and leading government figures who address key issues affecting trade, investment and wider economic development.

This year we gather under the theme ‘Bold Leadership and Collective Commitment: Advancing Intra-African Investments’. As such, we will discuss topics of crucial significance to advancing the continent’s economic integration to create the world’s largest trading bloc of 1.2 bn people.

COMESA, now consisting of 21 countries following the admission of Tunisia and Somalia this year, continues to play a leading role in creating this bloc. As one of the most influential regional economic communities in Africa we have pioneered integration programmes to harmonise policies, programmes and documentation among states. These have often been adopted or adapted by other regional economic communities on the continent. COMESA is also dedicated to create an enabling environment that allows the private sector to initiate strategies and drive investments that will optimise the opportunities for accelerating cross-border trade.

I am especially delighted that the Women Empowering Africa vision has such a prominent role in the Forum. It offers an exciting platform for talented women drawn from many backgrounds to exchange knowledge, experiences, success stories, as well as, challenges. As COMESA fosters inclusive development that does not leave anyone behind, it is also fitting that Africa’s young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to network and showcase their skills at this event.

My wish is for all our delegates to strengthen relations with existing partners and forge new business collaborations at the Africa 2018 Forum.

Finally, I express my appreciation to the Government of Egypt, more specifically to President Al Sisi for hosting the third edition of Africa Forum.

I look forward to meeting you all during the Forum and sincerely hope it will be rewarding to you all.

Heba Salama

Chief Executive Officer, COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA)