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CESO Launches In-AFO Conference in West Africa

CESO Communications October 22, 2016

Dakar, Senegal (October 17, 2016) – CESO (Canadian Executive Service Organization), will host a three day multi- country conference held in Dakar, Senegal, from October 24-26, 2016. Through the lens of economic development, the conference, named “In-AFO: Innovation de l’Afrique de l’Ouest,” will explore innovation, resiliency, replication and collaboration across several critical themes and sectors from local, national and regional perspectives. The conference is a key component of CESO’s five-year Volunteer Cooperation Program (VCP) called “Strengthening Capacity through Innovation and Volunteer Expertise” (known as STRIVE), funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

The In-AFO conference brings together government officials, leaders and decision-makers, and entrepreneurs (including women and youth) representing key sectors driving socioeconomic growth in several West African countries, including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Benin. The conference will move beyond the identification major issues impacting the region; participants will be using the conference sessions to dig deeply into the issues and challenges with the aim of identifying best practices and tangible solutions tailored to the needs of the local population, particularly those most vulnerable.

“The In-AFO conference is an exciting opportunity to bring together multiple institutional level partners from the private and public sectors, as well as business leaders across our West African program countries to analyze key regional challenges, such as agriculture and climate change, and to work collaboratively to identify long-term solutions to those challenges,” says Wendy Harris, CESO Chief Executive Officer and President. “By bringing multiple perspectives, experiences and practices together in one space we can unlock the potential for innovative solutions to challenges that aren’t constrained by territorial borders, and to set up the economic infrastructure that will propel the region forward.”

The In-AFO conference is fully funded by the Canadian Government through Global Affairs Canada as part of CESO’s flagship five-year VCP program, STRIVE. The Canadian government will also have a strong presence and will participate throughout the conference.

“We are very grateful for the continued support of the Government of Canada, particularly the Honourable Minister Bibeau and Global Affairs Canada, who continues to support the value of economic development as a catalyst for economic and social change, as well as the eradication of poverty,” says Harris. “The active participation of Global Affairs in the In-AFO conference in addition to funding is a clear indication that our government recognizes and supports the value of private sector participation and economic development as effective mechanisms of sustainable change.”

In addition to tangible solutions and best practices, the In-AFO conference will seek to enhance both local, national and regional (multi-country) networks and relationships, and to strengthen national and regional economic institutions (both public and private) of CESO partners across West Africa. The main regional themes and sectors to be explored over the course of the conference include:

  • Gender equality and economic empowerment of women and youth
  • Agriculture/agribusiness and resiliency to climate change
  • Hospitality and tourism (including eco-tourism) as critical economic drivers
  • Strengthening institutions, including chambers of commerce and trade associations
  • Opportunities to enhance finance and micro-finance innovation and regulation
  • Supporting entrepreneurship and strengthening small and medium-sized businesses

The conference will welcome a broad range of guests and participants, including CESO partners, clients and dignitaries from its program countries in West Africa, including: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Benin. CESO Regional Representatives from East Africa (Tanzania), Asia (Philippines), Latin America (Bolivia), and Caribbean (Guyana) will also participate and bring their experiences and best practices into the conference dialogue and activity.

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CESO thanks and gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Global Affairs Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and our private-sector supporters.
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