Sub-Saharan Africa’s future prosperity hinges on the ability of its leaders to create inclusive, sustainable growth at a time of rapid transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will be the main message coming from the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa September 4-6.
The meeting will bring together 1,100 leaders from government, business and civil society, including ten heads of state or government. Top of the agenda will be new partnerships to create sustainable employment opportunities for Africa’s large and growing workforce.
The meeting will highlight: improving the funding and regulatory environments for start-ups; developing new partnerships for re-skilling and upskilling workers; identifying opportunities for green growth such as the circular economy; scaling-up e-commerce for rapid business growth, especially in the SME sector; and how to leverage the new Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement to drive regional integration.
Also high on the agenda are government policies and responsible business practices to provide a foundation for a more inclusive society. While globalization has driven economic growth, it is criticized for leading to unacceptable levels of income inequality. Tackling corruption, universal healthcare provision and protection of workers in the gig economy all have a role to play in building more equitable societies.
“The World Economic Forum brings top leaders together to create the conditions for socio-economic investment to happen. Africa, like all regions of the world, faces great challenges. For the region to prosper in an increasingly globalized world, it needs transparent governance, competitive economies and peaceful societies. This systemic change can only be achieved through multistakeholder collaboration,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the Forum.
New initiatives that will be launched at this week’s meeting include:
- The Africa Growth Platform, a coalition of governments and investors aiming to fast-track development of the region’s most promising start-ups and SMEs
- The Africa Risk Resilience Platform, a scheme to help governments prepare for, mitigate and prevent climate- and disease-related disasters with the support of the private sector
- Africa E-Commerce Agenda, a partnership between governments, the international trade community and the development community to create three million jobs by 2025
Heads of state or government participating in the meeting include: South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa; Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana; Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros; Mandulo Ambrose Dlamini, Prime Minister of Eswatini; Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia, Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, Hage Geingob, President of Namibia, Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria, Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, Danny Faure, President of Seychelles, Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe.