Cape Town - The 25th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa takes place in Cape Town from June 3-5 and is set to be the largest in history with 1250 delegates, representing over 75 countries, set to participate.
The WEF on Africa, first held in 1990, brings together leaders from the spheres of business, politics, academia and civil society to discuss Africa’s role on the global stage with the theme for this year being “Then and Now: Reimagining Africa’s Future”.
Elsie Kanza, WEF Head of Africa, said in a statement on Friday: “The occasion of our 25th meeting allows us an opportunity to see how far Africa has come economically, socially and politically since 1990. However, what this meeting is really about is looking forward, to see how we can channel the lessons of the past with the creativity, innovation and resourcefulness that comes from all stakeholders working together to solve Africa’s challenges in the present and future.”
The WEF meeting takes place at a time when Africa is fast becoming attractive to international investors, with seven of the world’s fastest growing economies being in Africa. According to the WEF on Africa programme, there is a great deal of potential within the continent for dynamic economic growth, with the continent’s growth projected to remain stable at 4.5 percent during 2015.
South African President Jacob Zuma and Yemi Osinbajo, vice-president-elect of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo are expected to address an intergenerational dialogue on poverty and inequality given the fact that Africa is home to the world’s youngest demographic. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the number of young people within working-age population is projected to reach one billion by 2040, placing Africa ahead of China and India.
Other debates expected to arise during the forum will be around three important pillars significant to Africa’s future growth, namely “Enabling Markets, Marshalling Resources and Inspiring Creativity”.
The forum will consist of over 90 senior government officials, representatives from over 83 leading international companies (drawn from the forum’s Strategic Partners community), a new generation of 200 young leaders from the forum’s community of Global Shapers and Forum of Young Global Leaders, and 270 female leaders - the forum’s largest contingent of female leaders to date.
Leaders will attend high-level sessions that addressed issues important to Africa, and the world, including migration, the combating of terrorism and how to best harness Africa’s informal economy.
Delegates will try to answer questions like how Africa could deepen and broaden its capital markets, how to achieve the double-digit growth required for sustainable growth, and what structural changes could be made to boost investment in the region.
Innovation is also set to play a key part in the three-day forum, which will include “Community Conversations”, a series of public debates based on the popular Davos Open Forum format. This new platform is aimed at encouraging young people within the host city to engage with leaders at the forum on themes of entrepreneurship and leadership, among others.
For the first time, WEF Africa will also host live press conferences and briefings aimed at enabling public engagement with the forum on important conversations around Africa’s future growth and sustainability.
The forum will be co-chaired by Antony Jenkins, Group Chief Executive for Barclays in the United Kingdom, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the undersecretary-general and executive director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN) in New York, Patrice Motsepe, the founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals in South Africa, Paul Polman, the chief executive officer of Unilever in the UK, and Michael Rake, the chairman of the BT Group in the UK.