CAPE TOWN – Heads of government, business magnates and civil society leaders from the African continent are expected to join global leaders at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, next week.
Organisers said the 50th annual meeting, taking place from January 21 to 24, would focus on establishing stakeholder capitalism as a way of addressing the world’s greatest challenges, including societal divisions created by income inequality and political polarisation, and the climate crisis.
The meeting will be held under the theme "Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World".
Despite the recent spate of economic growth, Africa remains afflicted by entrenched poverty and high and rising inequality. The gap between rich and poor is greater than in any other region of the world apart from Latin America, according to humanitarian group Oxfam.
In many African countries the gap continues to grow, according to the organisation's most recent research.
In this context, the prospects of achieving global sustainable development goals and the African Union's Agenda 2063 are severely diminished, Oxfam has said.
Next week's meeting will build on the foundations of the Davos Manifesto 2020, according to the WEF, which includes issues such as fair taxation, zero tolerance for corruption, executive pay and respect for human rights.
“Business has now to fully embrace stakeholder capitalism, which means not only maximising profits, but using their capabilities and resources in cooperation with governments and civil society to address the key issues of this decade. They have to actively contribute to a more cohesive and sustainable world,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF.
This year’s programme focuses on "achieving maximum impact on the forum’s platform for public-private cooperation across six core areas of activity including economy, society, technology and geopolitics, among others," said the WEF.
Chairperson of Independent Media SA, Dr Iqbal Survé, who will be joining other business leaders at the forum, said that in narrowing the inequality gap Davos needed to address the democratisation of technology to make it more affordable and accessible to the world, particularly in developing or emerging countries.
He added that businesses and governments had an opportunity to work towards a more inclusive society by investing within countries and between countries, to narrow the economic disparities that currently existed.
Among the initiatives to be launched at Davos is one that aims to plant one trillion trees over the next decade and to equip one billion people with the necessary skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, and Macky Sall, president of Senegal, are amongst the African heads of state who will participate in the forum.