This week, Durban played host to the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017.
This international organization is committed to improving the state of the world (and in this case, Africa) through engaging leaders from all sectors and enabling public-private cooperation.
Africa has its unique challenges. “Africa is facing a mixed outlook for growth. The economic growth forecast for the continent over the coming year is expected to be lower than the 5% average of the past decade. This is largely due to the dip in commodity prices and the economic slowdown in China. That said, a number of countries are growing above 6% per annum and foreign direct investment inflows continue to rise. Overall, the divergence of Africa’s economies makes it imperative to address the challenges posed by a growing unemployed youth population and climate change, among others.”
- “South Africa is a democratic country and markets should not panic,” said Gigaba (South African Minister of Finance). “We will have a general election and there will be a new president in 2019. There will be a peaceful transition. We will continue to strengthen our institutions for political predictability and stability.” These institutions include the courts and the country’s legal framework, he said.”
- “Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of Finance of Germany, said European elections and Brexit are not major geopolitical risks in the global context. By contrast, the growing wealth gap between the rich and poor has the potential to create “major problems” for the world.”
- “Frédéric Lemoine, Chairman of the Executive Board of Wendel, France, and a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa, said the risk factors for investors in Africa are often overstated. Companies in the developed world simply do not know enough about conditions on the continent to make informed decisions. The challenge for Africa is to prove that investments can work over time and not be disrupted by political instability and policy uncertainty.”
- “Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, identified the crisis of leadership as a common theme across the world. He called on Africa’s older generation of leaders to act as role models for the younger generation. Schwab quoted the three key values of a leader shared with him by Nelson Mandela: to respect human dignity and diversity, to serve the community you belong to and not your self-interest, and to act as a trustee for future generations.”
- “Africa is brimming with brilliant, educated young people. In fact, with the number of working-age people expected to grow to 450 million over the next two decades, Africa’s engines of job creation are struggling to keep up. The result could be a worsening crisis of youth unemployment.” Read more
- ” Zuma acknowledged that Africa has many young people who possess qualifications but are not easily employable. They lack the “scarce” skills needed to deal with rapid technological change. Given slow global growth, unemployment among young people looms as an enormous issue. As a result, “education is project number one in our country,” said Zuma, but government needs business, unions and civil society to help create bridges for young people to enter the job market.” Read: What is happening to African jobs and Close the skills gap to prepare Africa’s workforce for tomorrow’s Jobs
- “…Mugabe slowly said: ‘That isn’t true’. He continued: ‘Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa. After South Africa, I want to see another country as highly developed.’”
- “Despite the challenges faced by Africans to get online, blogging on the continent has enjoyed explosive growth, helping shape a positive African narrative in recent years.” Read more.
Tourism was also on the agenda with reference to the lack of inter-continental travel and awareness.
Click here for The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017
The African economy is commodity-dependent and in urgent need of economic diversification, sustainable growth, market integration and responsive leaders.Though Tourism is not the answer to all, it can play a very important role in education, skills development, employment, economic benefit and of course for changing perceptions on Africa.
And it was with a focus on changing perceptions, that We Are Africa was hosted in Cape Town earlier this week. Their vision: “… to unlock Africa from these tired old tropes [a place of war, famine and disease, or else as ‘the safari country’], projecting a more modern and dynamic image outwards and bringing a plethora of new business in. In cooperation with the continent’s best travel brands, we are dedicated to telling the many stories of Africa’s diverse countries and people.”
The insights are interesting, the suggestions and plans exciting. May the action and proper implementation soon follow.