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  • Lieutenant governor headlines Pan African trade conference

    Eleni Kounalakis, California's lieutenant governor, will be keynote speaker during the trade conference Oct. 15-17. (Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore CC, BY, SA)

    By Dixie Reid

    California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is the keynote speaker as part of the ninth annual Pan African Global Trade & Investment Conference, Oct. 15-17.

    The conference theme is “Expanding California Trade and Investment with Africa and the Caribbean.”

    Public activities begin Oct. 16 at Sacramento State, then move to the state Capitol on Oct. 17. Admission is free for Sac State students, faculty and staff.

    The conference kicks off Tuesday, Oct. 15, with a reception for the visiting African delegation at Sacramento State Downtown. The delegates include representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Cameroon, and Uganda.

    Kounalakis is scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. on Oct. 16 in Sac State's University Ballroom. She will focus on California’s interest in and plans for promoting trade and investment with Africa.

    Kounalakis is a Sacramento native and the first woman elected lieutenant governor of California. She was sworn in Jan. 7, 2019, by Gov. Gavin Newsom. She also was the first Greek American woman to serve as a U.S. ambassador.

    Her father is Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopolous, for whom the Hellenic Collection at the University Library is named.

    “The presence of the lieutenant governor is very promising of the current administration’s interest in promoting a robust infrastructure for mutually beneficial commerce with Africa,” said Ernest Uwazie, professor of Criminal Justice and director of Sac State’s Center for African Peace & Conflict Resolution (CAPCR), one of the conference sponsors.

    “Efforts must be made in collaboration with California colleges and universities, including Sacramento State, and other allied agencies toward achieving fair trade for peace and prosperity,” Uwazie said.

    Conference activities on Oct. 16 begin at 9 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast, followed at 10 a.m. with welcome remarks from Steve Perez, Sacramento State provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May and state Controller Betty T. Yee also will speak.

    The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) will make a panel presentation at 11 a.m.

    Chris Eze, director of the Federal University of Technology Owerri Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies, in Nigeria, is the noon luncheon speaker. Concurrent business-opportunity plenary workshops are scheduled for 2-5 p.m., and the day concludes with a 6 p.m. reception.

    The conference continues Oct. 17, at the Capitol's Jesse Unruh Room. Uwazie will speak at 10:30 a.m. about the “African Peace and Conflict Landscape, and Implications for Trade and Investment.

    Conference sponsors also include Sacramento State’s Career Center, Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce, California Black Chamber of Commerce, UC Davis, California Policy Solutions, GO-Biz, U.S. Commercial Service, and Queen Sheba restaurant.

    The full conference schedule can be viewed online. 

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