26 May 2023
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On May 25, 2023, MEPEI (Middle East Political and Economic Institute) and HE Mrs. Raja Jhinaoui BEN ALI, Ambassador of Tunisia to Romania and Dean of the Group of African Ambassadors and Heads of African Diplomatic Missions accredited to Romania and Honorary Consuls of African countries, organized a roundtable discussion at the University Politehnica of Bucharest, Amphitheatre “Radu Voinea”, which welcomed representatives of the accredited diplomatic missions in Romania, international organizations and institutions, officials of the Romanian public institutions, NGOs, academia (professors), think-tanks (researchers and analysts), business persons, and mass-media.

The Group of African Ambassadors and Heads of Mission was led by the Dean of the Group, Raja Jhinaoui Ben Ali, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia, and included Hassan Abouyoub, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, Moayad Fatallah Eldalie, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Safiya Ahmad Nuhu, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abdulmuli Monem, Ambassador of the State of Libya, Abdelmadjid Naamoune, Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Elmansour Ibrahim Bolad, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan, Leopold Abibo Lomalisa, chargé d’affaires en pied of the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the invitation of the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, Marin Stancu, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Ghana, Serge Rameau, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Benin and Eduard Mansour, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Senegal also attended the conference.

After the introductory speeches of HE Mrs. Raja Jhinaoui BEN ALI, and of Prof. Mihnea COSTOIU, Rector, University Politehnica of Bucharest, the event moderated by Mr. Flavius CABA-MARIA, President of MEPEI, was focused on a double perspective, a pragmatical, business-oriented one, and a more theoretical, factual-based one, as presented below:

  1. Now is the time to invest in Africa: Romanian opportunities for cooperation – Speakers:
  • Iuliu STOCKLOSA, President, Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Eduard COSTIN, Director, Department of Foreign Relations, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania
  • Alexandru-Antoniu BABIN, Former Honorary Consul of Senegal to Romania (2000-2010), Founder and Managing Director of ADISAN SA, Managing Director of SBAN GBR – Kirchensittenbach (Germany), Former CEO of SIO GROUP Nigeria
  • Sorin BOUARU, President, EURAFRICA Business Club
  1. Shifting geopolitical/geoeconomically paradigms: reflections on rethinking Africa
  • Simona CORLAN-IOAN, Director, Institute of African Studies, University of Bucharest
  • Liviu MUREȘAN, President, EuroDefense Romania
  • Hamady BOCOUM, Director of the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar (Senegal)
  • Ecaterina MAȚOI, Program Director at MEPEI, Lecturer at the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Department of Basel University
  • Mihai SEBE, Head of Unit – European Studies Unit, European Institute of Romania

In her opening speech, HE Mrs. BEN ALI emphasized the importance of May 25, 2023, as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union back in 1963, thus the premise for organizing the event to celebrate what is considered Africa Day.

The event’s main talks highlighted Africa’s potential for growing in terms of business, which remains both underestimated and misunderstood. However, it was repeatedly underlined that Africa’s fast-growing population and markets present important opportunities for business in an environment of slowing global growth.

Africa has been known for a long time for its resource abundance in both agriculture and mineral resources. In the past decades, more than 90% of African economies were dominated by primary industries, such as mining, agriculture and natural resources. This pattern is changing rapidly as diversification in the economy is underway. This is where many business incentives appear, but the resources should be used for the local production and not shipped abroad for processing.

Additionally, Romanian companies could offer expertise in various domains, namely tech, pharmacy, utilities, agriculture and extraction industries, to name a few important branches for cooperation. Therefore, the discussion constituted an ideal platform for the exploration of a potentially multi-faceted collaboration, which according to the experts present, should become a priority for states like Romania.

Nonetheless, Africa should have the courage and learn firstly to collaborate internally, among the component states, before being able to advance the cooperation with the countries outside the continent.

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