Durban entrepreneur Tebogo Petlele shares in the excitement of the build-up to the three-day World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa which starts at the Durban ICC on Wednesday. She delivered her colourful headwraps to WEF hostesses and staff, who will sport them during the high-profile gathering. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi

This week, African leaders from all spheres will meet up in Durban at the World Economic Forum’s annual Africa meeting (WEF Africa 2017). They will be joined by global business leaders, non-governmental organisations and many others who want to observe and help shape the continent’s future. 

This year’s theme, “Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership” is a fitting follow on to the meeting held last year in Kigali. 

Last year the focus was on how Africa can benefit from the massive technological changes happening in the world – termed The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The discussions highlighted the need for leaders and regulators to adapt and embrace these changes in order to allow the continent to benefit.  

In order to improve and grow manufacturing on the continent, an enabling environment is key and this was highlighted during last year’s sessions. Reliable electricity, good transport infrastructure, efficient ports and borders - plus an enabling business environment are just some of the many things that are needed before local innovators and entrepreneurs can compete effectively on a world stage.  

The World Economic Forum will launch its Africa Competitiveness Report during this year’s meeting and this should enable governments and leaders to focus on areas that need improving in their countries and regions.  Fittingly, many sessions at WEF Africa 2017 will focus on industrialisation and unlocking the industrial corridors across the continent.

Last year Makhtar Diop, the Vice President for Africa at the World Bank, had the following words for the delegates, “implementation, implementation, implementation”.  It emphasised how important leadership is for getting things done. These thoughts lead into this year’s theme of responsive and responsible leadership.

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The final words at WEF Africa 2016 went to South Africa’s then Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. 

He suggested to the organisers that more sessions need to be devoted to measuring the implementation of good policies, rather than discussing policy.  

Hopefully WEF Africa 2017 can live up to these expectations and truly show that the continent is on a growth path that will benefit all of its people.

Paul Clark is a Fund Manager and Africa specialist at Ashburton Investments. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Media.

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