Africa Day is celebrated annually on 25 May to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the Africa Union’s predecessor, on this day in 1963.
With this year’s celebration marking the 60th anniversary of independence of several African countries, we’re taking a look at the many ways the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) continues to act at a national, regional and local level to make business and trade work for all in Africa.
Promoting entrepreneurship across Africa
ICC and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have launched the ICC-ECA Centre of Entrepreneurship to run capacity building programmes, trainings and community workshops and address the challenges facing entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Africa.
With strategic locations across Africa, the ICC-ECA Centre of Entrepreneurship works with a range of stakeholders, including businesses, chambers of commerce, academic institutions, intergovernmental and governmental agencies, to connect local entrepreneurs to global markets and enhance regulatory conditions for SMEs to thrive.
From developing the skills of young people who face uncertain employment prospects to mentoring local start-ups and entrepreneurs, the ICC-ECA Centre of Entrepreneurship is committed to preparing the next generation of African business leaders.
Strengthening ties with Francophone Africa
ICC and CPCCAF (Permanent conference of African and francophone consular chambers) signed a cooperation agreement last year to promote open trade and investment and facilitate the integration of businesses in Francophone Africa to the global economy. The terms of the agreement were later set out at a dedicated side meeting for French-speaking chambers convened at the 12th World Chambers Congress in Dubai.
Speaking at the 46th General Assembly of the CPCCAF last month, Special representative of the ICC Secretary General for Francophone Africa Francois Georges reaffirmed ICC’s commitment to the international development of French-speaking African businesses, particularly SMEs.
The ICC World Chambers Federation also welcomed the Benin Chamber of Commerce and Industry as its newest member last week.
Training future African leaders of international arbitration
The ICC Africa Commission announced the 2022 cohort of ICC Hold the Door Open scholars, composed of aspiring arbitration practitioners from 14 African countries. Comprising nine women and 11 men, the first ICC Hold the Door Open scholars were selected after an open application process at the end of 2021, during which the ICC Africa Commission received a total of 78 applications from 16 African jurisdictions.
The ICC Hold the Door Open initiative aims at enhancing the capacity of young arbitration practitioners by affording them a rare opportunity to observe arbitration hearings, either held virtually or in person.
In 2018, ICC established the ICC Africa Commission, with the aim of coordinating ICC’s outreach on the continent and augmenting the number of qualified and available African arbitrators to oversee the growing number of disputes arising from increased commercial activity in the region.