The International Conference on the Emergence of Africa (ICEA) is a platform of exchange which was established with the primary aim of: supporting the structural transformation processes ...

Concept Note

In the wake of the 2016 shocks, the world economy has been recovering and global growth for 2018 is estimated at 3.9%. The recovery observed in 2017 is expected to continue with global growth maintained at 3.9% in 2019, according to IMF. Africa is committed to this process with an accelerated growth mounting from 3.7% in 2017 to 4.1% in 2018 and 2019 (African Development Bank, 2018: "Economic Perspectives in Africa").  The improvement is essentially due to a more favorable international economic situation (stronger world growth, increase in the prices of raw materials, in particular, oil, etc.), increased domestic demand and rise in agricultural production. This African average conceals the even greater performance of the majority of countries striving to move towards emergence (Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania…) with an economic growth of close to 7% between 2016 and 2018. The economic dynamics of these countries is driven by the private sector and domestic consumption as well as public investments intended to upgrade the infrastructure.

 The International Conference on the Emergence of Africa (ICEA) was instituted to support this dynamics. More specifically, it seeks to support the building of African countries’ capacities to prepare and implement the emergence plans by pooling their expertise and documenting good practices in the field. The first two editions of the ICEA showed that several African countries were striving to move towards emergence. For this purpose, they prepared emergence plans supported by long-term visions consistent with the principles of African Union Agenda 2063. To achieve this objective in the long term, the countries must address major challenges such as: (i) forging solid consensus among all stakeholders (politicians, civil society, national private sector…) on the long-term vision in order to stay within scope and pursue the reforms beyond the whims of the electoral cycles, (ii) the development of individual and collective leadership to provide strategic and operational guidance to emergence which, as a bet on the future, is planned and built in a stable environment (peace, security, respect of human rights, transparency,…).

 This was the spirit underlying the Abidjan Declaration of 2015, which called on African players, starting with governments, to initiate a reflection and common strategic watch on issues that could impact the progress towards emergence. The Declaration underscored the need to organize a Forum on good practices, every two years. This biannual event is beginning to take shape and increasingly serves as a framework where African stakeholders (government, private sector, civil society, universities…) exchange views on common constraints and challenges in order to find solutions in keeping with the African context, and benefit from the lessons learned in Africa and elsewhere.

 General Background

 The first edition of ICEA (ICEA-I), held from 18 to 20 March 2015, served as a forum to discuss the conditions of Africa’s emergence in light of the ongoing process and progress and the lessons learned from the economic and social transformations in emerging countries, namely China, Brazil, India and Malaysia, but also in some African countries. Its Declaration outlined the model of emergence adopted by the Continent because of its specificities. 

 The second edition of ICEA (ICEA-II), held from 28 to 30 March 2017 focused on the challenges of implementing the emergence plans in Africa. To address these challenges, there is need for core skills, rigour, organization; firm commitment at all levels, starting with the State and public administration, as well as the mobilization of the necessary funding.

 The economic growth of several African countries currently striving to move towards emergence is sustained by public investments in infrastructure. Indeed, these investments are likely to indirectly stimulate growth by attracting private investments, but their sustained development could, over time, be limited by debt pressure. In this context, the discussion increasingly focussed on the need (or urgency) to substantially increase the private sector’s contribution to growth to ensure that it remains strong, sustainable and takes into account the opportunities that are around the corner (continental free trade area, expansion of the African market size and the middle class, rapid urbanization…).


Building on these positive signals to accelerate structural transformation requires a national private sector committed to massive investment in order to kick-off new growth engines, particularly in sectors where the African demand is rapidly growing  (manufacturing industries, food processing industries, capital goods, household appliances, spare parts, support services…), bearing in mind the digital revolution and its impact on the methods of producing goods and services. This also calls for the development of competitive chains in sectors where African countries have comparative advantages or can work together; there is need to acquire market shares at national, regional and global level in order to create more wealth and jobs on the spot.

 Thanks to the lessons learned from the first two editions and taking the current trends into account, the 3rd edition of ICEA (ICEA-III) will deal with private sector development and the emergence of national champions as prerequisites for the success of the African emergence plans. In addition to these central issues, the Conference will also look into the terms and conditions of private sector contribution to the inclusion and exploitation of the territories’ economic opportunities, within the framework of fruitful public-private partnerships.

 To enhance the credibility of the ICEA, the 2019 edition will provide the opportunity to take stock of the implementation of resolutions adopted by the two preceding ICEA editions and provide new insights. Its credibility also implies the capacity to positively impact the ongoing preparations and revisions of emergence plans in several African countries. For this purpose, ICEA-III will be an occasion to make a few innovations, while capitalizing on the results of the first two editions. During the national case studies, the emergence process in progress on the continent will be reviewed and the good practices of African countries highlighted. Besides, in addition to the private sector which will play a central role in the preparation and conduct of the ICEA-III, the African Network of Delivery Units will be fully involved in the scientific organization so as to take ownership of this event and strengthen collaboration among its members. The interaction among members of the Network will be facilitated by the digital platform for collaborative exchanges dedicated to the sharing of experiences and solutions likely to lift the constraints with which African countries are regularly confronted. This platform will also serve as a forum where these actors could find the last generation tools and methods available in Africa or elsewhere in the world.