Cape Town – As the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA ) 2017 starts on Wednesday, the founder and executive chairman of the Sekunjalo Group, Dr Iqbal Survé, provided insight by explaining what it means for Africa and how, if taken advantage of, it could greatly benefit the continent.
Taking place in the port city of Durban till Friday, how to achieve inclusive growth in Africa will be thrashed out by 1 000 global leaders in business, government and civil society. They will deliberate on and agree to priorities that will help Africa achieve this.
Survé declared that the WEFA 2017, will be what one makes of it.
“Sekunjalo is a member of the WEFA, so it’s important for our company to engage with business leaders, government officials, public sector organisations and civil society groupings that principally operate in Africa, as we are invested in at least 40 countries on the continent,” said Survé.
Sekunjalo is deeply rooted across various economic sectors including telecoms, resources, media, technology, manufacturing, food processing, healthcare pharmaceuticals, civil security, network solutions businesses, financial investments, fishing, mining, reclamation, aquaculture and many more.
“It’s a great opportunity to engage with partners, to enter into new businesses and hear first-hand from the private sector and government officials their strategy for economic growth, diversity and development,” said Survé.
Survé’s involvement in the World Economic Forum (WEF) includes being part of the forum member advisers and in Davos this year, being appointed to the stewardship board of the WEF’s Shaping the Future of Information and Entertainment initiative.
He is also the former chairman of the WEF Global Growth Companies advisory board (GGC) and vice-chairman of the Global Agenda Council for Emerging Multinationals.
His international role was further deepened by his most recent appointment as chairman of the Brics Business Council, SA Chapter.
Having participated for almost 10 years on many panel discussions at the WEF meetings including Davos, Summer Davos and Africa, Survé maintained that the forum was useful to Sekunjalo in a number of ways.
Firstly, for identifying investment opportunities for the Sekunjalo Group and being able to promote its strategy for Africa, to engage, collaborate and continue to work with existing multinational partners. (Sekunjalo is the shareholder partner to multinationals such as Siemens AG, Nokia, Saab AB, BT, Coriant and others in their African subsidiaries.)
“Secondly, being represented at the WEF is about being an ambassador for my country, to showcase it, to invite people to invest in South Africa and our continent, and to find value-creation partnerships that could help both our businesses and other businesses that want to operate on the continent in the most sustainable way,” he said.
Thirdly, Survé (who is also a qualified medical doctor) will participate on a number of panels to discuss science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research and responsible leadership.
He added that the WEFA is also about identifying young talent on the continent, particularly in the areas of the Young Global Leaders (YGLs) and tech pioneers. “It’s a great opportunity to identify young talent, to recruit and support the young talent in our various businesses."
Survé explained that the WEFA companies, which Sekunjalo forms part of, along with the tech pioneers, social entrepreneurs and YGLs, make a positive impact on humanity through their research, development and initiatives.
With direct relevance to WEFA, Sekunjalo, as an investment holding company, roughly employing 115 000 people across its 200 sizeable investments on the continent, will continue to fly the flag for investment into Africa, said Survé.
He explained the importance of getting the decision-makers on the continent together in one place.
“If the various economic sectors with the highest growth in Africa are clearly identified at the WEFA, then investment entities and partners would be able to capitalise on those opportunities.
"It provides an opportunity to hear from governments on the continent about what their macro-economic strategies are and how we can help and partner with them to achieve their economic-growth objectives."
He said it was also to understand their fiscal, monetary, social, political stability in these countries and how we relate to that in terms of our growth strategies.
Survé outlined issues on the continent that should be addressed at the WEFA.
“There are concerns such as youth unemployment, issues of environmental sustainability, private and public sector co-operation, constitutional democracy and governance, fixed foreign direct investment, currency exchanges on the continent, common policies for trade and issues of infrastructure,” he added.