Bill Clinton spoke at the Discovery Leadership Summit in Sandton.

Economic growth is essential to turn the corner from the current financial problems facing the country. This was one of the themes at the 2018 Discovery Leadership Summit held in Sandton, Joburg, on Thursday.

Various players in the private and public sectors, including former US president Bill Clinton and African Rainbow Minerals founder and chairperson Patrice Motsepe, unpacked their insights, expertise and strategies on issues relating to governance, business, economics and science. 

One of the keynote speakers, former US first lady and senator Hillary Clinton, said a healthy society could be compared to a three-legged stool which stands when there is a functioning, effective and honest government; a productive, dynamic and successful private sector; and a flourishing civil society. 

“The legs have to be stable and equal. And they are unequal in most of the world. There is work for all of us to do,” said the former US presidential candidate. 

Asked by Discovery chief executive Adrian Gore about their world view, the Clintons said they were hopeful about democracies around the world. But they cautioned against ungoverned technology and artificial intelligence possibly threatening job security in economies such as South Africa.

“I think what we’re going to find out in the next 25 years is this burst of democracy and comfort with diversity, and the restraints of democracy bringing people together. Life is hard, but it’s an exciting time. Overall, the world is in a pretty good place and the problems are not insoluble,” said the former US president, citing extended life expectancy and reduced infant mortality, among other things. 

“When President Mandela and I started out on Aids, there was no global fund on Aids and TB, or malaria, nor (the Bill and Melinda) Gates Foundation. People are now living longer with treatable conditions,” said Clinton.

In the same breath, Clayton Christensen Institute research fellow and Harvard alumnus Efosa Ojomo said affordability and accessibility were the key to innovation that drives growth. 

“When we looked at the US, Europe, and Japan, market-creating innovation was a standard catalyst for growth in the economy and in the prosperity of people,” he said.

Christensen, regarded as one of the most influential business theorists of the last half century, echoed Ojomo. “Innovation always comes before development that has the potential to create prosperity. This prosperity does not come from resources, but is rooted in market-creating innovation,” he said.

The Sunday Independent