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Our History


Launched in 2004, the Columbia Africa Conference (CAC), formerly the Africa Economic Forum, is the largest Africa-focused event at Columbia University, and is a student-led collaboration between Columbia Business School and the greater Columbia Africa community. This year, African students at CBS, Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, and SIPA will all play a role in bringing the conference to life!

Over the years, the conference has been an occasion for top business executives, thought leaders and policymakers to discuss key topics affecting the continent, while providing a rich learning and networking experience for speakers, businesses, and attendees alike.

Several prominent African leaders have flocked to our New York campus in the past 19 years, from Heads of States, Central Bank Governors, CEOs of the continent’s largest firms, philanthropists, groundbreaking entrepreneurs and some of the region’s greatest innovators. 


Columbia AfriCon has been designed to provide a platform for meaningful engagement and thought-provoking discussions among students, faculty, professionals and members of the Columbia community. 


The last 19 years have been nothing short of exceptional, and the organizing committee endeavors each year to uphold the vision that underpins the event: one of creativity, commitment to an interdisciplinary approach, and belief in having African voices showcasing African narratives. 


Since the Forum’s founding, AEF has played host to a broad range of expert speakers, including:

  • Ralph Mupita - President & CEO, MTN Group

  • Jeffrey D. Sachs - World Renowned Economist & Author

  • Edward Effah - Founder & Chairman, Fidelty Bank

  • Dr. Albert Zeufack - Chief Economist for Africa, World Bank Nunu Ntshingila - CEO, Facebook Africa

  • Abdul Abdullah - Founder and CEO of Afrochella Festival Christina Tegbe - Founder and CEO of 54 Thrones

  • Amina J. Mohammed – UN Deputy Secretary-General

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Director-General of the WTO

  • H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia – Vice President, Republic of Ghana Dambisa Moyo – Economist and Author of Dead Aid

  • Raila Odinga – Former Prime Minister of Kenya

  • Arnold Ekpe – CEO, Ecobank

  • Tony Elumelu – Chairman, United Bank for Africa

  • Lamido Sanusi – Former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria Shantayanan Devarajan – Chief Economist, World Bank

  • Fola Adeola – Co-Founder, Guaranty Trust Bank

  • Jian-Ye Wang – Chief Economist, China EXIM Bank

        And many more...

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