By Bekele Geleta

It is with a great deal of optimism and pride that I prepare for my role as Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa in the country of my birth.

Bringing the Forum to Addis Ababa marks a real shift in the perception of Ethiopia by the international community – a gradual understanding that this is a continent of potential and opportunity and not just misfortune and intractable problems.

As a representative of civil society among what will be an impressive gathering of influential political and business figures, I will be reinforcing the logical progression from building strong communities to strong economies, and, ultimately, greater political stability.

In an African context particularly, this journey often begins with food security. It is an issue that requires a long-term approach that creates resilient communities. It is an issue that is at the top of my mind, as well as for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and many participants who are coming to the meeting.

I know that the Forum will provide a unique opportunity to build bridges between governments, the business sector and civil society that will see people, not profit, at the centre of solutions to food insecurity and other challenges that prevent Africa from fulfilling its potential. We need to take this opportunity and run with it.

I look forward to putting my thoughts in writing over the course of the meeting. In the meantime, as we say in Amharic, me’elkam edil (or good luck) to all involved with this historical event.

Bekele Geleta, Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Geneva.