Africa 2018 Forum: Development, women and youth take centre stage: The third edition of the annual Africa Forum series, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, produced pledges to accelerate development in Africa and also provided a lively platform on how women and youth can play a greater role in this endeavour.

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Speaking at the Africa 2018 Forum held in the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh in December, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said: "This event emphasises how much importance Egypt accords to the African continent. It's been an important platform to enhance the multilateral framework of African countries. Improving African infrastructure and a clear focus on development will be central to our agenda during our chairmanship of the AU."

Five African heads of state and some of the continent's most powerful business leaders were among a formidable assembly of over 1,000 public and private sector actors at the third edition of the Africa Forum. This annual event is now firmly established as the high point of the continent's conference calendar.

President Al-Sisi outlined how Egypt, in its position as chair of the AU, will help tackle some of the issues and constraints holding back investment and economic growth around the continent.

Egypt, he said, will establish a risk insurance fund to encourage Egyptian entrepreneurs to invest in other African countries and benefit from the continent's massive opportunities. A guarantee fund dedicated to investing in infrastructure, information technology and high-end digitisation of African economies, was also announced.

"We have another pressing challenge in Africa--that of time. I believe building hope for our people cannot wait any longer. We have to be in a hurry and apply progress in a speedy way in whatever we do."

Egypt takes over the chairmanship of the African Union at the AU summit to be held next month--replacing Rwanda under President Paul Kagame.

Both Kagame and Sisi took part in an intergenerational dialogue during the Forum's Young Entrepreneurs Day. Kagame was quick to point out that the growth of Africa's population was definitely not a threat but a distinct opportunity. "We have to provide the leadership necessary for young people to be free, explore and express themselves. We are not doing them a favour, it is our duty and responsibility," he said.

With more than 60% of its population under the age of 25, sub-Saharan Africa is already the world's youngest region today and, by 2030, will be home to more than one-quarter of the world's under-25 population. As this young population, the best-educated and most globally connected the continent has ever had, enters the world of work, the region has a demographic opportunity, he explained.

President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, a major...

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