Africa’s drive to generate inclusive economic growth and the leadership this requires will be the focus of the 27th World Economic Forum on Africa, being held in Durban from Wednesday to Friday.
More than 1 000 leaders from more than 100 countries, representing business, government, academia, civil society, media and the arts for the meeting which is themed “Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership”.
In a statement on Friday, WEF said Africa’s imperative was to generate truly inclusive economic growth that “provides everyone with the same opportunity to prosper and achieve”.
WEF said the Durban meeting aimed to move leaders to change the way they approached development planning by designing policies that allowed everyone to benefit from economic growth.
“Until now, the benefits of global economic growth have been disproportionately distributed within regions and countries, which has led to a crisis for market capitalism and a proliferation of populist and nativist political movements.”
Its other priority is to help Africa prepare for the huge changes the world is about to experience as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Rapid technological advances in the physical, digital and biological worlds are giving rise to a new era that will have a profound effect on how humans live, work and interact.
"Building the right institutions, developing relevant skills and enhancing access to knowledge will be crucial to Africa’s future prospects.”
Among the key issues which will come under the spotlight are food and water security, preventing deforestation of tropical forests, securing investment to tackle infrastructure gap, bridging the digital divide, improving delivery of health care, helping Africans gain access to financial services, and facilitating better intra-regional trade.
Key participants include President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, King Mswati III of Swaziland, Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Mozambican President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, Senegal President Macky Sall, Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, Namibian Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and vice-president of Ghana, Mahamudu Bawumia.
Other key attendees include Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba, Sam Kutesa, minister of foreign affairs of Uganda, Joshua Setipa, minister of trade and industry of Lesotho, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, minister of youth and information and communication technology of Rwanda, Minister of Telecoms and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, Claver Gatete, minister of finance and economic planning of Rwanda, Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini, Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Energy Mmamoloko Nkhensani Kubayi
In addition, leaders from outside the region who will participate include Tharman Shanmugaratnam, deputy prime minister and co-ordinating minister for economic and social policies of Singapore, Wolfgang Schauble, federal minister of finance of Germany, and Brigitte Zypries, federal minister of economic affairs and energy of Germany.
Representatives from international organisations include actor and activist Forest Whitaker, who is the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation special envoy for peace as well as a social activist with the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, Mamadou Biteye, managing director, Africa regional office of the Rockefeller Foundation, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Ellen Agler, chief executive of The END Fund, and Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary-general for the UN Conference on Trade and Development.
“The best way to secure a sustainable and prosperous future for Africa is to build an economic transformation centred on inclusive growth and equality of opportunity for everyone,” said Gigaba.
“Africa’s leaders must act fast to build strong, inclusive societies capable of prospering in our rapidly changing world. If we create conditions in which everybody is able to prosper, then the 21st century can truly be Africa’s century. If we fail, the region risks falling further behind,” said Elsie Kanza, head of regional strategies: Africa, and member of the executive committee at the WEF.
The co-chairpersons of the WEF on Africa are Winnie Byanyima, executive director, Oxfam International, Siyabonga Gama, group chief executive officer, Transnet, Frederic Lemoine, chairman of the Executive Board, Wendel, Rich Lesser, global chief executive and president, Boston Consulting Group, and Ulrich Spiesshofer, president and chief executive, ABB.
AFRICA NEWS AGENCY