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Collaboration, Dominant Theme As The Africa Soft Power Summit Gears Up For Kigali

By Waliat Musa
16 February 2023   |   7:13 am
Kigali, Rwanda is set to host the Africa Soft Power Summit, a fresh take on showcasing the continent’s growing influence on the world stage.

Kigali, Rwanda is set to host the Africa Soft Power Summit, a fresh take on showcasing the continent’s growing influence on the world stage.

The summit, which will be held from May 23 to 27 this year, attracts speakers and delegates from across the continent and around the world and celebrates Africa’s creative, knowledge and digital industries, combining sessions, networking activities and local events. The announcement was made at the ‘Live in Lagos’ partners mixer to introduce this year’s edition of the summit.

Speaking at the event, Nkiru Balonwu, Founder, of Africa Soft Power Group noted that the summit was in line with the group’s goal: ensuring that the continent is part of the wider global conversation around key intersectional issues such as business, economics, gender, security and more.

“In addition to leveraging the power of the African creative and cultural industries to deliver tangible opportunities for our young people domestically, we know that these sectors can help retell the narrative about modern Africa on the world stage, and allow it to contribute a unique and insightful voice across both the public and private sectors globally”, she said.

Collaboration was a reoccurring theme at the event which saw the likes of BellaNaija, Business of Photography, African Women on Board, ASP Global, TechCabal and EXP Agency spotlighted as partners. “It’s important to tell these stories about who we are and who our partners are. We can’t win if we are small-minded. We have to unite to propel Africa forward”, said Nkiru as she informed guests that more partner activations would be held in cities including Dakar, Nairobi and Los Angeles.

Her position was shared by Uche Pedro, Founder, BellaNaija who also acknowledged how Africa’s creative industries have broken boundaries post-COVID. “We have to own our space. It has to be led by us [Africans], and Africa Soft Power and the summit is such a big part of leading from within the continent “.

“Ego has always been the biggest challenge. If you lock ego out of the room in Africa, we will move a lot forward and the fact that this is called ‘Africa Soft Power’ is in itself a realization that we have to work together”, said Obi Asika, Founder, Iba Ajie, Co-founder, Social Media Week and a founding member, ASP Advisory Council.

Speaking on the formidable mix of partners, Nnenna Onyewuchi, Executive Director, Strategy & Innovation, Yellow Brick Road, noted how necessary the summit was. “Africa Soft Power as a concept is about reclaiming the truth of who we are. Part of this is about shifting the way the world sees us but also shifting the way we see ourselves; shifting competition to collaboration, shifting the understanding of the role of women, shifting the understanding that we are actually the centre of the world, we are not a satellite, we are the sun”, she said.

On three main conference days (24th, 25th and 26th), the Africa Soft Power Summit will feature the RAW Women’s Leadership Conference, the Creative Industries and Innovation conference, and the ASP Gala and Awards. Outside of this main programming, the summit there will be a host of other activities such as partner mixers, masterclasses, city tours, the Basketball Africa League (BAL) games, golf, etc with something for everyone.

Speaking at the event, Audrey Solvar, the Events Project Manager at BAL, who is also Founder, of Black Creators Matter, explained the league’s reasoning for supporting Africa Soft Power. “Even if we are a sports brand, we are also creating this ecosystem of basically educating young people, discovering talent, and building lifestyle brands around the globe”, she said.

Also speaking on the mind-shift propelled by the summit, Kola Oshalusi, Founder, of Business of Photography stressed that “it’s important for us to see our industry not just as a creative industry but as a revenue-generating, economic-driving industry. That’s the basis of what soft power is about”.

Attendees at the summit can expect the event to provide a catalytic platform for change, bringing key stakeholders from a range of industry backgrounds, from around the world, together under one roof to share ideas, opportunities, and strategies for Africa’s.