VUB-UCOS eyes up entrepreneurs for Africa’s development

NGO focuses in seminar on commercial opportunities on the African continent

On Wednesday 28 November, the University Centre for Development Cooperation (UCOS) is organising a seminar and debate in the Brussels temple of culture hub BOZAR on entrepreneurship in Africa. The speakers are business leaders rather than the usual suspects for an event like this. “Our development aid models turned out to be incomplete,” says Frank Verstraeten, coordinator of UCOS. “Looking back, it is clear that investment and entrepreneurship are important drivers of change as well. With the seminar we want to give the floor to people who are strong advocates of it.”

Africa is now hot for big business. In countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, a new generation of very talented people is rising. As recent as a couple of weeks ago, UK Prime minister Theresa May, on a visit through Africa, promoted British investments and joint ventures. Prior to that, China invited all African heads of state to Beijing to further promote their investments on the continent.

One should ask though, who really benefits’ Furthermore, what is Europe’s policy in this regard? What kind of entrepreneurship is sustainable? “The new vision on development is a win-win for all parties. With the current geopolitical reality, we have to be careful that Europe doesn’t get caught in the middle,” says Verstraeten. “In the Matonge district of Brussels, too, hundreds of Belgian Africans are eager to do business. But where are the economics and business students in this story? We want to wake up the young, enterprising people from here to the opportunities that lie ahead in Africa. Provided that social implications are taken into account, a nice story can be written. The keen interest in Wednesday’s seminar is a good start.”

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