Sub-Saharan Africa’s future prosperity hinges on the ability of its leaders to create inclusive, sustainable growth at a time of rapid transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
This will be the main message coming from the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa that starts tomorrow in Cape Town.
The meeting will bring together 1 100 leaders from government, business and civil society, including ten heads of state or government. Top of the agenda will be new partnerships to create sustainable employment opportunities for Africa’s large and growing workforce.
The meeting will highlight: improving the funding and regulatory environments for start-ups; developing new partnerships for re-skilling and upskilling workers; identifying opportunities for green growth such as the circular economy; scaling-up e-commerce for rapid business growth, especially in the SME sector; and how to leverage the new Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement to drive regional integration.
Also high on the agenda are government policies and responsible business practices to provide a foundation for a more inclusive society. While globalization has driven economic growth, it is criticized for leading to unacceptable levels of income inequality. Tackling corruption, universal healthcare provision and protection of workers in the gig economy all have a role to play in building more equitable societies.
“The World Economic Forum brings top leaders together to create the conditions for socio-economic investment to happen,” says Elsie Kanza, head of Africa at the Forum. “Africa, like all regions of the world, faces great challenges. For the region to prosper in an increasingly globalized world, it needs transparent governance, competitive economies and peaceful societies. This systemic change can only be achieved through multistakeholder collaboration.”
New initiatives that will be launched at this week’s meeting include:
* The Africa Growth Platform, a coalition of governments and investors aiming to fast-track development of the region’s most promising start-ups and SMEs;
* The Africa Risk Resilience Platform, a scheme to help governments prepare for, mitigate and prevent climate- and disease-related disasters with the support of the private sector; and
* Africa E-Commerce Agenda, a partnership between governments, the international trade community and the development community to create 3-million jobs by 2025.
Heads of state or government participating in the meeting include: South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa; Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana; Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros; Mandulo Ambrose Dlamini, Prime Minister of Eswatini; Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia, Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, Hage Geingob, President of Namibia, Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria, Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, Danny Faure, President of Seychelles, Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe.
South African government leaders include: David Mabuza, Deputy President; Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance; Jackson Mthembu, Minister in the Presidency; Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of Small Business Development; Patricia de Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure; Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize, Minister of Health; Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training; Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry; Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises; Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport; Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services; Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation of South Africa, and Barbara Dallas Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa.
Senior government leaders from other parts of Africa include: Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo, Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning of Equatorial Guinea; Mamadi Camara, Minister of Economy and Finance of Guinea; Safia Boly, Minister of Investment Promotion, Small and Medium Enterprises and National Entrepreneurship of Mali; Carl-Hermann Gustav Schlettwein, Minister of Finance of Namibia; Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda; Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Zambia and; Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Zimbabwe.
Leaders from outside the region are: Mohcine Jazouli, Minister-Delegate for Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation of Morocco; Xu Jinghu, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China; Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore; Xiana Mendez, Secretary of State for Trade of Spain; Daniela Stoffel Delprete, State Secretary for International Finance of Switzerland; Graham Stuart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Investment, Department for International Trade (DIT), United Kingdom and; Cyrus Habib, Lieutenant Governor of Washington, US.
Representatives from international organisations are: Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, New York; Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, AUDA-NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Johannesburg; Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva; Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Geneva; Susanna Moorehead, Chair, Development Assistance Committee, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris; Valerie Guarnieri, Assistant Executive Director, Operations Services, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Rome; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Addis Ababa; Vijay Iyer, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), Washington DC; and Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Geneva.
The Co-Chairs of the 2019 World Economic Forum on Africa are: Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer, The END Fund, USA; Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom; Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva; André Hoffmann, Vice-Chairman, Roche, Switzerland; Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman, A.T Kearney, USA; Jim Ovia, Chairman, Zenith Bank, Nigeria, Sipho Pityana, Chairman, AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa.