Cape Town - The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa is an opportunity to focus on how to improve health, housing, infrastructure and governance, says Dr Iqbal Survé, vice-chairman of the forum’s global agenda council (GAC).
This week the WEF on Africa takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. More than 1 000 people from around the world will focus on reimagining Africa.
Dr Survé said the conference is an important multi-faceted organisation focused on formulating policies to improve the lives of the global community.
“You will get global leaders focused on solving the gap of health care in Africa, issues of housing and infrastructure, improving governance and uplifting the living standards of all people,” Dr Survé said.
NGOs like Oxfam, the International Red Cross and Green Peace are all central to the programme of the WEF.
“WEF is also a place where the top academics in the world are able to engage with stakeholders on the most innovative thinking about what is going on in the world,” he said.
These academics include Ivy League university heads, vice-chancellors, deans and key academics who are specialists in their fields.
Dr Survé pointed out that in addition to the conference, WEF’s strength lies in its second layer, the global agenda councils – expert bodies on issues ranging from food security, technology and cyber security, as well as innovation in music.
There are 80 agenda councils, which Dr Survé described as the forum’s think tank.
The global agenda council is made up of three sets of people. The first comprises academics, the second top business leaders in the world, who are selected to serve on the council, and the third consultants from firms like AT Kerney.
“You end up with probably the most insightful group of people coming together to shape worldwide policies,” Dr Survé said.
He said the focal point of WEF is also to impact on changing society and the lives of people. As vice-chairman of WEF’s global agenda council on emerging multinationals, one of his roles is to turn emerging businesses into global companies over time.
He said businesses are successful only if they fill a gap that exists in society, whether in developed or developing nations. Dr Survé said if the business does not fill a gap, it will fail.
“The US and China are two dominant economies that are incredibly successful because they are meeting the needs of the consumers. Business would not make money if it did not do that,” he said.
Besides serving as vice-chairman of the WEF’s global agenda council (GAC), Dr Survé is also an advisory member of WEF’s Global Growth Companies (GGC).
“Global growth companies came about when non-European countries, like India and China, became part of the top 10 global economies,” Dr Survé said.
“Africa is a continent that is exploding with talent. Young people make up the majority of the continent and are hungry to play a role in developing the continent further.”