German Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, WEF, gestures during a press conference, in Cologny near Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. The World Economic Forum unveiled the program for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, including the key participants, themes and goals. The overarching theme of the meeting, which will take place from Jan. 17 to 20, is "Responsive and Responsible Leadership". (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
Johannesburg - Next week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, would give the government, business and civic leaders an opportunity to discuss collaboration that could culminate in public-private partnerships (PPPs), said Paul Clark, a portfolio manager and Africa Specialist at Ashburton Investments.

The WEF meeting, in the Swiss mountain resort, is a platform for world leaders to meet and debate pressing global problems. In a report launched yesterday, the WEF highlighted a handful of risks facing economies around the world. These include economic, geopolitical, environmental and technological risks.

“A lot of the meetings and the debates take place outside of the formal WEF discussions. This will be an opportunity for government, business and civic leaders to informally discuss what can be done to enable PPPs in areas such as renewable energy,” said Clark.

He said the move towards PPPs could solve Africa’s long-standing problem of lack of access to energy. At last year’s WEF Africa meeting Rwanda, there were pointed discussions about lack of infrastructure, poor governance and lack of regional integration.

“At WEF Africa there were discussions on what is necessary to enable PPPs.

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“What are the expectations from government and what are the expectations from the private sector in terms of funding? Governments need to create an enabling environment urgently,” said Clark.

The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution was an opportunity for Africans to take advantage of the transformative power of technology to improve sectors such as agriculture, he said. The Fourth Industrial Revolution was characterised by a fusion of technologies that was blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, according to WEF founder and chairman, Klaus Schwab.

Clark said next week’s meeting was also likely to focus on the link between good governance and economic growth. He lauded signs of improved governance in Africa. “Ghana had its general elections (in December). When Gambian President Yahya Jammeh refused to relinquish power after he was defeated in elections (last year), other African leaders condemned him,” he said.

On responsible leadership Schwab said leaders had to take the right decisions in a complex world that suffered from legacy issues and emotional turmoil. “There cannot just be a return to basics. There has to be a recognition that we are in unmapped territory, which places the status quo, and by extension leaders themselves, into question,” he said.


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