WEF on Africa opens in Cape Town

3 June 2015

The 25th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa began in Cape Town this morning, under the theme “Then and now: reimagining Africa’s future”. It ends on 5 June.

It’s the largest WEF meeting in the region to date, and more than 1 000 leaders from business, politics, academia, civil society and media are attending. The forum meets every year to pick over the economic problems and possibilities of the African continent.

The first meeting in Africa took place in 1990, the year Nelson Mandela was released from prison. The programme built upon the three pillars of enabling markets, marshalling resources and inspiring creativity.

“This year’s meeting will also feature a high-level session on critical subjects aimed at showcasing opportunities in Africa, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the world,” said acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams.

Delegates will be welcomed to Cape Town, South Africa and Africa by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom this evening. President Jacob Zuma will host the official welcome Mokete/Gala dinner tomorrow.

The programme includes a plenary session featuring Zuma and other leaders, moderated by WEF founder and head Professor Klaus Schwab.

The Grow Africa Investment Forum, which started yesterday, is running alongside the WEF on Africa. It brings together leaders engaged in the WEF-led Grow Africa food security initiative.

Another high-level summit focuses on mobilising financing for cross-border infrastructure. South African ministers would participate in key sessions during the meeting, Williams said.

“South Africa values the importance and contribution that the World Economic Forum provides in creating economic opportunities for growth and development in the country and the continent. The WEF on Africa will also showcase that South Africa is open to business.”

For the first time, WEF on Africa will host live press conferences and briefings aimed at enabling public engagement with the Forum on important conversations on Africa’s future growth and sustainability.

Meanwhile, on the opening day of the WEF on Africa, it announced its selection of Global Growth Companies (GGCs) regional finalists for Africa. The four companies can join the larger GGC community at the gathering. This is the first stop on their journey towards the annual meeting of the New Champions in September, in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, where the WEF will recognise the selected 2015 class of GGCs.

GGCs are fast-growing companies with the potential to become global economic leaders. The WEF says the represent a broad cross-section of industry sectors. Nominees “share a track record of exceeding industry standards in revenue growth, promotion of innovative business practices and demonstration of leadership in corporate citizenship”.

The regional finalists for Africa are:

  • Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopia) – The national flag carrier of Ethiopia, serving more than 80 international destinations.
  • Meikles Limited (Zimbabwe) – One of the largest conglomerates in Zimbabwe, with over 100 years of history.
  • PPC Ltd (South Africa) – The leading supplier of cement and related products in Southern Africa.
  • Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited (Nigeria) – An indigenous fast-growing petroleum producing company.

“The World Economic Forum is proud to recognise these four companies, which are at the forefront of driving responsible economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship in Africa. We look forward to the active and dynamic role they will play at our meeting in Cape Town, working with the region’s leaders to foster inclusive, sustainable growth in the region,” said David Aikman, the managing director and head of New Champions at the WEF. Together with Social Entrepreneurs, Technology Pioneers, Young Global Leaders, Global Shapers and Young Scientists, GGCs make up the New Champions, a WEF community of pioneers, innovators and creative disruptors.

SAinfo reporter