Johannesburg - The World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa will be hosted in Durban from May 3-5.

The countdown has already started, and Durban is ready and prepared to host this prestigious event.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs Sihle Zikalala spoke to Business Report in Davos in January, where a record 3000 leaders from governments, businesses and civil society gathered in Switzerland for the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

He said: “The city of Durban is proud to host some of the world's top leaders and decision-makers, global business leaders and billionaires, African investors and captains of industry, top women entrepreneurs and media houses from all over the world in May this year.”

Zikalala said earlier this year his department had lobbied for WEF Africa to come to Durban, “precisely because of its immense potential to enhance the brand equity” both of the city and the province.

He estimated that the direct result of hosting the event would be at least R64 million, with a total effect of more than R155 million.

Sources close to government told Business Report over the weekend that “President Jacob Zuma and various South African ministers will be present at the meetings in Durban to discuss foreign direct investments in South Africa”.

The reality is that “Africa is facing a mixed outlook for growth".

"The economic growth forecast for the continent over the coming year is expected to be lower than the 5 percent average of the past decade".

"This is largely due to the dip in commodity prices and the economic slowdown in China. That said, a number of countries are growing above 6 percent a year and foreign direct investment inflows continue to rise.

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Overall, the divergence of Africa's economies makes it imperative to address the challenges posed by a growing unemployed youth population and climate change, among others,” the WEF states on its official website. 

The impact of the headwinds for commodity-dependent countries has refocused attention on the urgency of economic diversification, revitalisation of manufacturing and harnessing of human innovation to weather the economic storm. The Fourth Industrial Revolution offers new opportunities to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth by fast-tracking market integration in Africa through industrial corridors. 

The World Economic Forum on Africa will convene regional and global leaders from business, government and civil society to explore solutions to create economic opportunities for all.

The host country - the only African G20 economy - is championing reforms to eradicate extreme poverty and promote shared growth nationally, regionally and globally.

The host city, Durban, which has the busiest industrial port in sub-Saharan Africa, offers insights to participants on how trade in regionally manufactured goods can strengthen economic resilience and create jobs.