A fine array of speakers from different parts of the world will take part in panel discussions, chair discussions and bring diversity and experience to the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) in Colombo. The meetings on November 11-14 are a precursor to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on November 15-17, according to a draft programme [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Wide range of speakers at Commonwealth Business Forum

3-4 days of hectic sessions (Nov. 11-14)

A fine array of speakers from different parts of the world will take part in panel discussions, chair discussions and bring diversity and experience to the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) in Colombo.

The meetings on November 11-14 are a precursor to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on November 15-17, according to a draft programme schedule of the CBF obtained by the Business Times.

The schedule is packed with sessions ranging from the rural economy, linkages between the Commonwealth and other groupings, energy, capital markets to business and society. More than one session is being held at a time.

Rural economy

The keynote address at the meeting will be given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa followed by a session on “The Commonwealth, Indian Ocean and SAARC: Building New Partnerships” which will chaired by Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj Auto, India. Speakers at this session are Xiaoyu Zhao, Vice President, Asian Development Bank; Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates; S. Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder, Infosys & President, Confederation of Indian Industry; Binod K. Chaudhary, Chairman, Chaudhary Group, Nepal and Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, Chairman, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The session on “Developing the Rural Economy for Sustainable Shared Growth” will be chaired by James Mwangi, CEO, Equity Bank, Kenya while the keynote will come from Malawi Vice President Khumbo Kachali. Speakers are Plantations Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe; Dr. Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD; Philip Bouverat, Director, JCB, UK; Brian Rogan, CEO, Cleveland Bridge, UK and Dr. Turki Al Rasheed, Chairman, Golden Grass, Saudi Arabia.

“Partnership Roundtable – Manufacturing and Value Addition” will be chaired by Sir Mike Gregory, Institute for Manufacturing, Cambridge University, UK and include Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda; Paul Cooper, Director, Rinstrum Smart Weighing, Australia and Mahbubur Rahman, CEO and Chief Executive, ETBL Holdings (Ltd), Bangladesh.

Young entrepreneurs

The “Partnership Roundtable – Innovation, Start-ups and Young Entrepreneurs” will be chaired by Dr. Rahul Mirchandani, Executive Director, Aries Agro Limited & Founder President, Commonwealth-Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs, India and include Deputy Foreign Minister Neomal Perera: Ejaj Ahmad, Founder and President, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre; Srikant Suryanarayan, National Chairman, Young Indians and Marcela Navarro, Executive Business Manager, Royal Bank of Scotland, UK.

The meetings continue with a session on “Developing Small & Medium Business for Greater Wealth Creation” to be chaired by T. T. Ashok, Co-Chairman, CII MSME Council & Managing Director, Taylor Rubber Private Ltd.
Technology, Research and Atomic Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka; Sunil Kaushal, CEO – India and South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank; Srinivasan Nagarajan, Regional Director, CDC Group, India; Sukamal Sinha Choudhury, General Manager – SME Department, Bangladesh Bank and Oliver Everrett, NewMarket Partners Ltd, UK are the discussants.
The “Partnership Roundtable – New Models for Financing Infrastructure” will be chaired by Peter Callaghan, Director General, Commonwealth Business Council and see the participation of Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena; Diana Noble, CEO, CDC Group, UK; Azmil Khalili Bin Dato Khalid, President & Chief Executive Officer, AlloyMtd Group, Malaysia and Kanesan Velupillai, President, Scomi International, Malaysia.

Trading hub

“Trading Hub for the Indian Ocean and SAARC” brings together Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director & Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies (chair), Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa;

Management Reforms State Minister Navin Dissanayake; Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama, Chairman, Sri Lanka Ports Authority and Yu Ping, Vice Chairman, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).

“Partnership Roundtables – Strategies for Meeting Future Energy Demand” will be chaired by Ravi Mehrotra, CEO and Founder, Foresight Ltd, UK and include Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, UAE; M.M.C. Ferdinando, Secretary to the Ministries of Power and Energy & Investment Promotion; Prof. Priyantha Wijetunga, Principal Energy Specialist, ADB; Ramesh Ramasundaram, Group Managing Director, Shrad Group, Malaysia; Alan Rosling, Chairman and Executive Director, Kiran Energy, India; Sunand Sharma, President, ALSTOM International, India and Roland Fisher, CEO, GasFin Development, UK.

Winding up that day is the “Partnership Roundtables – Business and Society” to be chaired by Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry.

Senior Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera; Ashroff Omar, CEO, Brandix, Sri Lanka; Rosemary Kirkby, Managing Director, Rosemary Kirkby Associates, Australia and Thomas L. Higgins, Chairman and CEO, GoldShield, USA are the discussants.

Day 2: Packer’s day

File pic of a board welcoming delegates to CHOGM

Day two will kick off with the host country in focus as panelists Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Petroleum Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and James Packer, Chairman, Crown Ltd, Australia discuss the country’s potential under “Sri Lanka: 21st Century Business Destination”. Chairing the meeting is Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera, Chairman, Board of Investment, Sri Lanka.
On the topic of “Digital Growth and ICT”, Patrick Bitature, Chairman, SimbaTel, Uganda will chair the session which will include comments by Senior Minister Tissa Vitharana; Sudhir Narang, Managing Director, BT India; V.K. Mathews, Founder and Executive Chairman, IBS Group, India and Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group CEO, Dialog Telekom Plc, Sri Lanka.

“Developing Commonwealth Capital Markets” chaired by James Gatera, Managing Director, Bank of Kigali, Rwanda is one of the sessions in the tightly-packed three days. His panellists are Ibukun Adebayo, Senior Manager – India, Pakistan, Middle East and Africa, London Stock Exchange; Nadeem Naqvi, Managing Director, Karachi Stock Exchange, Pakistan and Jonathan Alles, Chief Executive Officer, Hatton National Bank.


“Infrastructure Challenges: New Global Partnerships” is being chaired by Peter Kieran, CEO, CPCS Transcom, Canada and include Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena; Peter Chamley, Global Head – Infrastructure Practice – ARUP, UK; Suresh Goyal, India Head, Macquarie Infrastructure And Real Assets and Richard Wotton, Chief Operating Officer, Roughton International, UK.

“Facilitating Asian investment into Africa” will be chaired by Chris Parsons, Chairman India Practice, Herbert Smith Freehills, UK and include Sev Vettivetpillai, Partner, Abraaj Group, UK; Manoj Kohli, CEO and Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, India;

James Benoit, CEO, AfrAsia Bank, Mauritius and Richard Arlove, CEO, ABAX Corporate Services, Mauritius.

The “Textiles and Apparel” session is close to Sri Lanka’s heart and will see the participation of M. Azeem Ismail, Chairman, Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), Sri Lanka; Rishad Bathiutheen, Minister of Industry and Commerce; Ashroff Omar, CEO, Brandix; Bill McRaith, Chief Sourcing Officer, PVH Corp, USA and Venu Nair, Managing Director, Marks & Spencer, India.


The “Banking and Financial Services: Enhancing Access & Economic Resilience” session will be chaired by Sir Tom Harris, Vice-Chairman, Standard Chartered, UK. This session includes keynote by Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart while the speakers are Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal; Ajay Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer, Aditya Birla Financial Services, India and James Mwangi, Group Managing Director & CEO, Equity Bank, Kenya.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame will make a presentation on “Invest in Rwanda” followed by a “Employability and Job Creation: Education and Training” session chaired by Roy Newey, Director, Pitman Training, UK. Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake; Katherine Ellis, Director and Head, Youth Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat; Raj Dravid , Chief Operating Officer, Centum Learning, India; Bill Twigg, Managing Director, SEMTA, UK; Beth Watson, Education Director, Asia-Pacific Region, Microsoft Corporation, Singapore and Vinod Vohra, Chairman, Repro India Ltd are the speakers.
“Women as Drivers of Growth & Development” is chaired by Arif Zaman, Chairman, Commonwealth Business Women and includes Power and Energy Minister Pavithra Wannairachchi and Freda Miriklis, International President, BPW, Australia.

Tourism-driver of growth

The “Tourism and Hospitality: A Critical Driver of Growth” session will be chaired by Louis Farrugia, Chairman, Simonds Farsons Cisk, Malta and see the participation of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera, Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam; Bhashwara Gunarathna, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; Simon Cooper, President & Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Marriott International Inc, Singapore; Arnaud Lagesse, CEO, GML Group, Mauritius and Nishanta Wickremasinghe, Chairman, Sri Lankan Airlines.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni will make a presentation to attract investments to Uganda.

“Impact Investment: Generating Returns and Development” is the theme of the next meeting to be chaired by Sev Vettivetpillai, Partner, Abraaj Group, UK. Speakers are Michael Fernandes, Co-Founder of Leapfrog Investments, USA; Nadia Sood, Founding Partner, Impact Investment Partners, UK; Harry Hummells, Managing Director, SNS Impact Investing, Netherlands and Vikas Raj, Senior Investment Officer, Accion Venture Lab, USA.

Final day – Rajapaksa, business leaders to Hambantota

The final day will open with a discussion on “Sport for Development & Growth” with the inclusion of Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Prince Tunku Imran, President, Commonwealth Games Federation.

The “Energy and Natural Resources Development: Commonwealth Partnerships” discussion brings together Richard Morgan, Government Relations Adviser, Anglo-American, UK; Mozambique President Armando Guebuza, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago; Hifikepunye Pohamba, President, Namibia; John Mahama, President, Ghana.
Two sessions – “Invest in Tanzania” will be addressed by its President Jakaya Kikwete, while “Invest in Zambia” would include Dr. Guy Scott, Vice-President, Zambia.

“Africa & Asia: Reshaping Partnerships for Sustainable Growth” will be chaired by Sunil Kaushal, CEO – India and South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank and include Jakaya Kikwete, President, Tanzania; Paul Kagame, President, Rwanda; and Manoj Kohli, CEO and Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, India.

Ghana President John Mahama will speak on investment options in his country followed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan discussing Nigerian investment and Armando Guebuza, President of Mozambique discussing his country’s prospects.

“Strengthening National Economies through Global Business and Trade” sees the participation of Razik Zarook, Chairman, Bank of Ceylon, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Deputy Minister of Finance & Planning and Tim Cobbold, CEO, De La Rue, UK.
“Invest in Namibia” will be presented by Hifikepunye Pohamba, President, Namibia.

On Thursday, November 14 after noon, President Rajapaksa and heads of government and business leaders will head to Hambantota.

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