Launched in September 2015, the Brown Capital Management Africa Forum provides a premier platform for substantive and solutions-oriented dialogue on key trade, investment, and development issues in Africa, and in U.S.-Africa relations. Convening business leaders and policymakers, as well as subject matter experts from the United States and Africa, the Brown Capital Management Africa Forum includes a series of public events designed to support the development of economic engagement and policy options that advance mutually beneficial economic relations between Africa and the United States. The Brown Capital Management Africa Forum is made possible by the generous support of Brown Capital Management.


U.S.-Africa Economic Relations at the State Level

November 6, 2019 Signature Event 

In 2018, the International Monetary Fund reported a 3.4 percent growth in real GDP for the continent and found that 8 of the world’s 20 fastest-growing economies were in Africa. A priority for the U.S. government is strengthening economic and commercial ties with Africa and encouraging more private sector investment. This signature event focused on economic relations between African countries and individual U.S. states, and featured U.S. federal and state officials and representatives, African government officials, and business leaders for the discussion on economic ties between Africa and individual U.S. states.  

This Ain’t Your Grand-Daddy’s Africa: Looking Beyond the Challenges to Lock in the Opportunities

June 11, 2019

Africa is a continent undergoing tremendous transformation across its economic, political, and security landscapes. While challenges remain, Africa’s political and socio-economic trajectories reveal many opportunities as well. This event focused on assessing Africa’s ongoing transformations, identifying challenges and opportunities, and highlighting strategic points for positive engagement for policymakers.

Sovereign Wealth Funds in Africa: Policies and Best Practices for Securing the Future 

May 9-10, 2019 Signature Event

Heads of African sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), subject matter experts, and senior policymakers met in Gaborone, Botswana for a high-level meeting on sovereign wealth funds in Africa and the catalytic role they play in development. This meeting, a partnership between the Wilson Center and the Bank of Botswana, marked the Africa Forum’s debut on the continent. The two day meeting provided for robust and in-depth discussions related to the key issues facing African sovereign wealth funds. With at least 14 sovereign wealth funds on the continent, participants took stock of the current state and landscape of African SWFs to assess successes, challenges, lessons learned and best practices.

The Role of the Business Sector in Peacebuilding in Africa

November 27, 2018

Many traditional approaches to peacebuilding in Africa have emphasized the roles of government, civil society organizations, and other organizations over that of the private sector, specifically business. This event examined the landscape of business sector efforts in conflict management and peacebuilding in Africa, including the key challenges and opportunities. Panelists offered recommendations for making the business sector a more effective partner for peacebuilding in Africa.

From ‘America First’ to ‘Brexit’: The Changing Global Trade Architecture and Implications for Africa” 

May 31, 2018

"America First" and "Brexit" has raised many questions about the future of trade, however, Africa's trajectory is in the direction of free trade and economic integration. This event explored the implications of “America First” and “Brexit” on global trade architectures and what this means for Africa, analyzing Africa's own trade architecture and its engagements within the larger global trade architecture.

Beyond the Big Three: Africa's Economic Relations with Brazil, India, the Gulf States, Turkey, and Japan

April 4, 2018

Africa’s economic relations has focused on China, the European Union, and the United States, however,  the continent ’s business engagement with other countries has been on the rise. This event delved into the fundamental motivations for Africa's economic engagement, the policy and institutional frameworks for supporting economic engagement for Brazil, India, the Gulf States, Turkey, and Japan, and the socio-political and economic challenges to and opportunities for increasing mutually-beneficial economic and business relations with the continent.

Boosting Trade and Development by Tackling Africa’s Supply Chain Challenges

November 16, 2017 | Signature Event

Africa’s integration into regional and global supply chains is critical to the continent’s economic development and to enhancing its global competitiveness. This event examined the current status of Africa’s supply chain development and integration at the regional and global level, highlighting both the progress made and key challenges in Africa’s supply chains. The discussion included senior African and U.S. business practitioners, policymakers, and officials from regional economic communities, providing recommendations on how to tackle Africa’s supply chain challenges at national, regional, and international levels. 

Maximizing Women’s Economic Leadership, Participation, and Impact in Africa

September 19, 2017

While women are key economic actors, their participation in the formal economy is too often hampered by socio-cultural, legal and regulatory, and political factors. This event assessed the state of women’s economic participation in Africa, highlighting both the progress made and key barriers to participation. Panelists offered practical options for action by African governments, the U.S. government, and international actors, including businesses, the non-profit sector, and other stakeholders, to maximize women’s economic leadership, participation, and impact in Africa. 

Transforming the Education Sector to Meet Africa's 21st Century Needs

June 15, 2017

This event explored African educational reform successes and challenges, examined policy options for governments and international actors, and assessed how educational reforms could drive the continent’s development and competition in the global economy. The speakers highlighted the importance of reforming all levels of education, using mother tongues to drive learning, fostering skills-based and vocational training, focusing on strategic planning, and utilizing technology and innovation to ensure higher quality education that could lead to the development of more effective education models. 

Comparing U.S. and Chinese Business Models in Africa

November 15, 2016

This event examined how, beyond the limited narratives of clashing values and competition for resources, U.S. and Chinese strategic objectives in Africa compare. Speakers discussed how business engagement fits into the larger strategic picture for each country, and how the U.S. and Chinese governments and companies engage with African countries in practice. They also discussed the ways in which U.S. and Chinese engagement are similar and different?

Amplifying U.S.-Africa Trade, Investment, and Economic Relations: From Obama to the Next Administration

September 13, 2016

The Obama Administration has sought to make trade and investment a larger piece of U.S.-Africa relations by establishing and expanding key programs to move U.S.-Africa economic engagement more centrally into the framework of U.S.-Africa economic relations. On the eve of the 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Summit and as President Obama prepares to leave office, this event examined the Obama legacy on U.S.-Africa economic relations, including successes, weaknesses, and challenges. It also explored the lessons, both positive and negative, that a Clinton or Trump administration should take from the Obama Administration’s Africa economic policy, and advisors to the Clinton and Trump campaigns discussed what Africans and Americans can expect in terms of economic engagement and relations in the post-Obama era.

Long-term Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Sovereign Wealth Funds

June 14, 2016 | Signature Event

Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)—state-owned investment vehicles that are often funded with revenue from oil or other natural resources—have been on the rise in Africa. This event explored the rise of SWFs in Africa, including their different roles, their governance and management, and how well SWFs have performed toward achieving their long-term development, economic stabilization, and savings goals.

Harnessing the Private Sector, Trade, and Investment in Africa to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

February 25, 2016

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired in 2015 with mixed results in Africa. Building on the lessons learned from implementation of the MDGs, this event focused on how best to structure local, national, and international partnerships across the public, private, and NGO sectors to achieve the SDGs in Africa.

Doing Business in Africa - Addressing the Corruption Factor

December 1, 2015

Even as the Obama Administration encourages U.S. economic and business engagement with Africa, many U.S. businesses remain wary of the continent's reputation as a hotspot of corruption and are often deterred from investing in African economies. The true picture is more complex—corruption remains a serious impediment to growth and outside investment, but some countries have taken measures to address the scourge more effectively than others. This event examined the nature, scale, and scope of corruption in Africa, its impact on companies wishing to do business on the continent, and lessons learned from the countries most successfully dealing with corruption.

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit One Year On: Progress, Challenges, and the Way Forward for Economic Relations

September 10, 2015 | Signature Event

The inaugural event of the Brown Capital Management Africa Forum was a retrospective on the groundbreaking 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which repositioned U.S.-Africa relations. This event presented in-depth conversations on the progress made in economic relations in the year since the summit, and featured senior officials U.S. and African government officials, and the Africa sections of top U.S. companies.



The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit One Year On: Progress, Challenges, and the Way Forward for Economic Relations

by Dr. Witney Schneidman

In this paper, Dr. Witney Schneidman assesses the progress made and challenges encountered in the year since the historic summit. He analyzes the status of important programs and initiatives discussed at the summit—including AGOA, Power Africa, and the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, as well as investment commitments from the U.S. government, intergovernmental organizations, and private companies—and offers recommendations on the way forward for U.S.-Africa economic engagement.

Policy Recommendations and Options: Advancing Mutually Beneficial U.S.-Africa Economic Relations

The event "The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit One Year On: Progress, Challenges, and the Way Forward for Economic Relations" launched the Brown Capital Management Africa Forum. Key recommendations from the event include promoting regional integration, tracking the status of economic commitments in the U.S.-Africa relationship, managing expectations for Power Africa, and building the capacity of African civil services.

The Rise, Politics, and Governance of African Sovereign Wealth Funds

by Dr. Adam D. Dixon

In this paper, Dr. Adam D. Dixon assesses the landscape of sovereign wealth funds in Africa, provides a typology of the different roles and policy objectives of sovereign wealth funds, and examines key issues in governance and management. He also highlights the role of international actors and the experiences of Botswana, Nigeria, and Ghana with their sovereign wealth funds.

Whither Sovereign Wealth Funds in Africa?

by Dr. Raymond Gilpin

In this policy brief, Dr. Raymond Gilpin examines potential benefits of well-managed sovereign wealth funds, and highlights several lessons learned from the experience of sovereign wealth funds in Botswana, Nigeria, and Chad. He discusses important governance and management issues and offers recommendations and options for the way forward for African sovereign wealth funds.

Policy Recommendations and Options: Harnessing Sovereign Wealth Funds for Sustainable Development in Africa?

This brief summarizes key policy recommendations offered at "Long-Term Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Sovereign Wealth Funds" for countries that have or are considering sovereign wealth funds, for the managers of those funds, and for international actors. Speakers on the event touched on the importance of clearly articulated goals and carefully considered structures in the establishment of a fund, laid out ways to enhance transparency and preserve political autonomy, and stressed the importance of understanding both the capabilities and limitations of sovereign wealth in supporting sustainable development.

Boosting Africa's Trade and Development by Tackling Some Supply Chain Challenges

by Mr. Tielman Nieuwoudt

In this paper,  Mr. Tielman Nieuwoudt assesses Africa’s supply chains challenges, provides an overview of the state of intra-regional trade and trade between Africa and the rest of the world, and examines measures that could be undertaken to boost trade. He also highlights the key challenges to trade as a result of Africa’s infrastructure and logistics gaps.

Policy Recommendations and Options: Boosting Trade and Development by Tackling Africa's Supply Chain Challenges 

This brief summarizes key policy recommendations offered at “Boosting Trade and Development by Tackling Africa’s Supply Chain Challenges,” for addressing supply chain challenges.  Speakers on the event unpacked Africa’s supply chain development and integration at both the regional and global levels, described key structural issues impeding Africa’s role in international trade and intra-African trade, and emphasized a need to prioritize and improve infrastructure development to better support Africa’s supply chains. 

Key Outcomes from the High-Level Meeting on Sovereign Wealth Funds in Africa: Policies and Best Practices for Securing the Future

This report highlights the key findings and recommendations from the two-day high-level meeting. The discussions unpacked the current state of African SWFs, focused on issues related to SWF governance, and assessed the role SWFs play as catalysts for Africa’s development. They also reflected on experiences and lessons learned from other regions to determine best practices that could be adapted to Africa’s context and needs, and developed practical recommendations for addressing governance and development issues. 

Please visit this page regularly for the full list of events and publications.