The second annual Africa Soft Power Summit took place in Kigali, Rwanda in May, bringing together leading speakers and delegates from around the world. BellaNaija was on hand as a dedicated media partner, hosting the second edition of the ‘Cocktails & Conversations’ event, and reporting on some of the most important moments from the summit.
With the dust now settled on Africa Soft Power’s biggest and best event to date, Here’s a look back at 5 key takeaways from this year’s summit.
Gender equality is universal equality
One of the most popular additions to this year’s program was the inaugural RAW Women’s Leadership Conference. RAW was real, Africa-hosted, and women-led, and it was remarkable to see just how much enthusiasm there is out there for greater gender equality in the workplace and throughout wider society.
Opening panel participant, Chike Obianwu – Deputy Managing Partner at Templars – joked that he was the ‘token man’ in what had otherwise been a female-dominated session. Templars is doing great work in the gender equity space and boasts a 53% – 47% female-to-male gender split across all offices. Firsthand insights were revealed in real-time regarding the pragmatic steps organizations can take to improve their own representation and inclusivity programs.
Sailing the Seven C’s
There was a whole host of world-class speakers on stage at the event, and in a way, it feels wrong to pick out just one! From entrepreneurs and artists to leading voices from the public and private sectors, the event featured some of the finest discourses on modern African industry as it stands today.
One particular highlight was Adefunke Adeyemi, Secretary General of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and the creator of the ‘7 C’s’ – seven top tips for finding success in your career and life:
- Character: who you are
- Courage: we need the courage to go through life and everything it throws at us
- Confidence: belief in yourself, that you can do anything you set your mind to
- Competence: to back up that confidence and show that you are incredible
- Capital: your brand, who you show up as, and what you show yourself to the world to be
- Commitment: what keeps you going, even when you don’t feel like it
- Charisma: your likeability, and ability to be human and humane
Celebrate don’t denigrate
Another key addition to this year’s summit was undoubtedly the ASP Gala & Awards, hosted smack bang in the middle of the 5-day convening. This was an opportunity to come together as a collective while recognizing individual excellence and celebrating the height of African creativity against the backdrop of an exclusive red-carpet setting filled with African fashion, food, music, and dance.
Going into the event, Africa’s Soft Power Founder, Nkiru Balonwu, had spoken about the need – while not shying away from the challenges Africa faces and the responsibilities it holds as a continent – to emphasize the more positive aspects of Africa. Removing Africa from the prism of the Western lens and creating its narratives is critical to today’s beliefs and tomorrow’s successes. At the Gala & Awards, the strength of African creativity and innovation was on display for the world to see.
Real-life events are Back!
The way the world rallied in its pivot to virtual events during the Covid-19 pandemic was something to behold and has provided a wider range of options for communications and connectivity going forward. But now, over three years since the onset of the pandemic, and with restrictions well and truly behind us, it was clear at this year’s Africa Soft Power Summit that the appetite for real-life events and face-to-face connectivity is stronger than ever before!
In Kigali, there was something for everyone. People came from across the world to listen, speak, interact, and at times simply enjoy. There were traditional conference formats, the aforementioned Gala and awards, networking, breakout sessions, leisure and cultural outings, and spontaneous socials, and the city of Rwanda truly became a home for the better part of a week. These types of interactions now seem even more important than ever before, even though their day-to-day working lives have been changed beyond recognition.
African soft power is now part of global culture
While hosted in Kigali, this was a global event, bringing the emerging creative and innovative sectors side by side with more traditional financial, investment, and corporate organizations to forge real bonds and examine genuine solutions for tomorrow’s growth pathways. With one-quarter of the world’s population predicted to be residing on the continent by 2050, witnessing Africa – and Africans – playing such a central role in these global conversations was extremely encouraging.
BellaNaija is a Media Partner for Africa Soft Power