Leaders Gather For WEF In Cape Town

The meeting, expected to gather a record 900 participants from over 60 countries, will be held under the theme “From Vision to Action, Africa’s Next Chapter,” organizers said.
“We chose this theme because we feel it is very relevant for the events that are taking place on this continent, and the opportunity for growth and investment that the international and African communities are seeing,” said Katherine Tweedie, head of Africa for the World Economic Forum.
Seven of the fastest growing economies in the world in the next five years will be in sub-Saharan Africa, Tweedie noted, saying that a lot of discussion will be devoted to explore drivers behind this growth.

Africa’s economic growth in recent years have impressed the world. Though being the most underdeveloped continent, Africa have been more resilient than expected during the global economic crisis.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) have predicted that the continent’s growth in 2011 will reach 5.3 percent.
Under one of the three thematic pillars, “Shaping Africa’s Role in the New Reality,” the meeting will explore how Africa can take on a leadership role in the new reality and guard against newly emerging global and regional risks. Participants will look at how Africa can strengthen its representation and negotiation capacity on global platforms such as COP 17 and the G20.

Meanwhile, the meeting will look into Africa’s industrial diversification, which is widely considered as an effective way to increase competitiveness. Discussions under the thematic pillar of “Fostering Africa’s News Champions of Growth” will focus on what innovative and entrepreneurial lessons drive Africa’s fastest- growing companies, and how can Africa’s emerging economies build capacity in science, technology and innovation to move up the value chain.
Another topic expected to attract much attention is Africa’s inclusive development. In recent years, African decision makers have been looking for ways to attain inclusive development by translating economic growth into better lives for the people.
Marcus Courage, managing director of consulting group Africapractice, said ahead of the meeting that Africa must start measuring its economic growth in terms of job creation and progress of value addition of what it produces, rather than the gross domestic product (GDP), if it has to move from vision to action.

“One of the challenges is that we measure economic success in therms of GDP. That is not fair reflection of action,” he told Xinhua.

Under the thematic pillar of “Building Partnership for Inclusive Development,” participants will debate on how can inclusive growth be put at the heart of a sustainable development agenda for Africa, and how can government of African countries work together with the business sector to distribute more equitably the benefits from the wealth in natural resources, among others.
Regarding the highlight of this year’s meeting, Tweedie said there will be a strong focus on green growth and the environment agenda, working closely with the South African government, given that South Africa will be hosting the COP 17 meetings in December.
The meeting will also have very strong representation from Francophone west Africa for the first time. As a result a good part of the discussions will be focusing on issues taking place in this part of Africa, she added.

Although South Africa has hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa for a number of times, this year the host is attracting particular attention.
South Africa has joined the BRICS group of countries which also include Brazil, Russia, India and China, becoming the only African member in the grouping. It is also the only country from Africa in G20. In November this year, South African city of Durban will host the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
How can the country speak for Africa in the international arena, and what role can it play in facilitating closer cooperation between developing countries is also expected to draw in-depth discussions at the meeting.
Meanwhile, participants are also expected to exchange views on issues including Africa’s agriculture development, infrastructure construction, China-Africa cooperation, impact of political situation in North African and the Middle East on Africa’s economic development, among others.