Posted by News Express | 2 May 2017 | 1,381 times
Delegates from more than 100 countries are expected to take part in the 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa meeting taking place in Durban this week, South Africa.
The host nation is fielding an 18-strong team of cabinet ministers at the meeting, which focus is on finding solutions to the challenge of inclusive growth.
President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the government delegation to the WEF Africa, which will host 10 heads of state or government from the continent and more than 1,000 participants in total.
WEF regional head for Africa Elsie Kanza said the numbers were similar to those of previous years, but 2017 had seen unusual levels of interest from non-African business leaders.
More than 700 of the Durban forum’s participants were business people, of which only about 250 were African, with more than 40 global “C-suite” executives due to attend.
Kanza said the participants list, which also includes about 80 policy makers from the continent and leaders from civil society, was strikingly diverse, with 100 countries represented.
There will be 22 CEOs from large South African companies, up from 19 at 2016’s meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
Germany, which is 2017’s Group of 20 chair and recently started its version of a “Marshall Plan” for Africa, is sending its finance minister and minister of economic co-operation as well as 14 business CEOs.
The WEF has debated inclusive growth for some time but the issue went centre stage at its Davos and regional forums in 2016 amid a growing perception in economies around the world that GDP growth had failed to deliver on job creation and that inequality had increased.
Kanza said the question of “how do we go beyond GDP” had become central in the past year and the WEF’s report on inclusive growth shared its research findings and proposed indices that provide governments with an alternative model for growing economies in ways that directly contribute to improved living standards.
The Durban forum would seek to regionalise the findings for Africa.
“If we are to change our models of economic growth, we need a sense of what we should prioritise and what policies have succeeded or failed in delivering inclusivity in different countries,” Kanza said.
The debates in SA about inclusive growth and radical transformation, she said, parallelled debates everywhere that were a reflection of the concerns about the aspirations and frustrations of those who felt excluded and of the urgency of the issue across the world.
This week’s WEF will be preceded by a “solutions summit”, the last of which was held 10 years ago. It will bring together social entrepreneurs and civil society organisations, as well as government and business people, with the aim of finding ways to scale up innovative solutions so that a critical mass of people can benefit from them.
•Adapted from a Business Day SA report.
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