2014 World Economic Forum on Africa – an overview
Nigeria is set to host the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Abuja on 7 – 9 May. This will be the 24th such gathering. Described as the foremost gathering on the continent, this gathering of the World Economic Forum on Africa will bring together regional and global leaders to discuss “innovative structural reforms and investments that can sustain the continent’s growth while creating jobs and prosperity for all its citizens”.
The Nigerian Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala thanked the WEF for choosing Nigeria as the next host at the close of the 23rd WEF Forum which was held in Cape Town, South African in 2013. During these remarks, Okonko-Iweala emphasised that the choice of Nigeria as the 2014 host was appropriate given its position and huge economic potential.
Okonjo-Iweala noted that the high growth rate of the country, coupled to a vibrant private sector meant that Nigeria epitomised much of the exciting growth potential seen throughout the continent. At the same time, Nigeria faces many of the challenges that face the rest of the continent, such as an infrastructure deficit, governance issues, and corruption and transparency concerns.
Nigeria: epitome of Africa’s growth potential
Alongside the notable private and public sector attendees, the 2014 Forum will be facilitated by a range of highly qualified, well-positioned Co-Chairs. These include:
- Dominic Barton – Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, United Kingdom
- Jean-François van Boxmeer – Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer, Heineken, Netherlands and Co-Chair of the Consumer Community Governors Meeting 2014
- Aliko Dangote – President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Nigeria
- Bineta Diop – Chair of the Executive Board, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Switzerland
- Jabu A. Mabuza – Chairman, Telkom Group, South Africa
- Sunil Bharti Mittal – Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, India
- John Rice – Vice-Chairman, GE, Hong Kong SAR
The World Economic Forum on Africa 2014 gathering seeks to address several key continent-wide issues, particularly in terms of ensuring continued growth rates and safeguarding much-needed development initiatives. A consistently expressed focus of the Forum is the issue of sustainable development, and the measures needed to ensure that development can occur. To emphasise this, the 2014 Forum theme is ‘Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs’.
Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs
Key focal points of the forum include:
- Redesigning Growth Models: Acceleration of an enabling environment to transform high growth into inclusive and sustainable growth.
- Deepening Investment Partnerships: Identifying opportunities to diversify and grow across national, regional and stakeholder boundaries.
- Accelerating Society’s Transformation: Building resilience and scaling innovations in education, technology and health.
Moreover, the Forum seeks to ensure that high levels of economic activity are effectively translated into job creation, reduced poverty and lowered inequality, all of which plague the continent. Another hot topic is the improvement of effort to ensure that revenues from natural resource extraction are channelled towards human development, particularly in terms of education and healthcare initiatives.
World Economic Forum: Enabling Africa
An underlying point made by the WEF is that the African continent as a whole is expected to maintain a general trend of high growth rates, with several countries’ economies projected to retain growth rates in excess of 5%. West Africa in particular is highlighted as a particularly fast-growing sub-region.
This need is echoed in Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s remarks: “For Africa to remain relevant, we need to adequately educate our people, as it is through education that we can unlock the potential of our youth to enable Africa to compete globally, and create jobs in the new knowledge economy.” Key here is the matter of adequate education for countries across the continent, and one of the many important topics to be addressed at the Forum.
Considering the large, youth-dominant population of this sub-region, such growth rate momentum is not only welcome, but also represents a potential demographic dividend. In other words, growth in consumer industries, manufacturing, and business process outsourcing can all benefit from a large pool of potential labour. This desire however, hinges on the availability of skilled labour, facilitated by suitably available education.
For further reading:
- World Economic Forum on Africa. Available at: http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-africa-0
- World Economic Forum on Africa Meeting Overview. Available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/AF14/WEF_AF14_MeetingOverview.pdf
About David Okwara
Abuja, Cape Town, challenges, creating jobs, economic potential, education, enabling Africa, global leaders, governance, growth, growth models, healthcare, high growth rate, human development, infrastructure, investments, Nigeria, South Africa, structural reforms, technology, WEF, World Economic Forum