On behalf of the Chair of the Board, Mr. Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, our Board of Directors, and our esteemed Senior Board of Advisors, I wish to thank each of you for being with us during this past year. Every one of our members has rallied behind us, with so many actively engaging at events. A special welcome to those who joined for the first time this year.
2020 is not a year most would want to revisit, yet at the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business it is one we will remember. I invite you to share a few moments reflecting with us. Whether Prime Ministers or community leaders, established executives or emergent SME owners - every delegate is an instrinsic part of our shared success this year.
After seven engagements across five countries at the highest levels of business and government in January and February, we had to shift gear to virtual events. We have since welcomed over 3500 new individual sign-ups who have joined, in addition to individual, country and company members.
Highlights this year included, but are not limited to:
- over 100 speakers across dozens of events, in-person, virtual or hybrid hosted in or from Canada and the continent
- the pre-launch of AU Procurement Portal for COVID-19, giving Canadian companies a front row seat in delivering solutions to the pandemic
- a record-breaking Africa Accelerating 3-day summit with live venues in Toronto and Gaborone, and over 800 virtual delegates
- the African Continental Free Trade Agreement Forum of Quarterly Meetings; facilitating support for enabling trade and investment (initiated following our participation at the Extraordinary AU Summit last year)
- dozens of webinars with over 100 speakers, including the Central Africa Investment Seminar - which featured five African Ministers in addition to the on-the-ground leadership of Global Affairs in this exciting part of the continent.
Providing our content freely this year has come about thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors who know that the economic fortunes of Canadian and African markets are intertwined. Before any lockdowns, the 21st Annual Mining Breakfast with MineAfrica was live broadcast digitally in addition to hundreds who gathered with us during PDAC.
True to our mission, we will continue to play our role through 'world class networking and information sharing events.
We end the year with a historic number of events and an even greater presence. In addition to our presence in Toronto, 2021 will start with the opening of our new office in the heart of the nation's capital.
The Chair of the Board, Mr. Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, relocated to Ottawa in September, given the Chamber’s commitment to the broader policies and strategies that will realise the potential. My participation and that of the Chair in various roundtables with CEOs and policy leaders has been substantive.
Through our platform, African Union Secretary General for AfCFTA, H.E. Wamkele Mene publicly thanked the people of Canada in the formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area - all while underscoring the importance of ongoing collaboration.
We are proud of our partnership with Global Affairs Canada, led by Director General Antoine Chevrier and incredible coordination of Philip Halliday, Senior Advisor on Pan-Africa Trade. I want to thank Members of Cabinet in Canada, African Ministers, and Heads of Mission representing the continent. One name that stands among members is that of Minister Mary Ng – our Minister of Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. Minister Ng, you been an incredible champion of deeper commercial engagement.
We recognize Members of Parliament across the aisle who take a sincere interest in our mission, particularly the co-chairs of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association and most certainly MP Rob Oliphant, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Finally, to our Board Directors, the Board Chair, Members of the Esteemed Advisory Board and the Past President, thank you. Our new business strategy this year welcomed new Vice Presidents, with two appointments: Jacques NdoutouMvé and Susan Namulindwa. Thanks as well to Arshad Mirza (Accounts Manager), Toye Abioye (Social Media Officer) and Mune Mafusire, our inaugural 2020 summer intern focused on AfCFTA at McGill University.
Never seeking credit, but always committed is Mr. Gian DelZotto, whose incredible support even as COVID measures hit, meant the Chamber could proceed fully with confidence amidst inital uncertainty.
Africa could in time become the world’s most dynamic regional trading bloc, as described in the Canadian press by one of our senior members – doubling Canada’s free trade footprint, creating thousands of jobs in Canada, ensuring a lasting contribution to humanity: through the long-overdue economic liberation of Africa by Africans, with Canada and its people as the trusted partner and honest broker for peace and prosperity.
Best wishes to each of you and your families during this holiday season.
Forward we go into 2021!
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business