Governments’ role in the World Economic Forum on Africa

“Broadly, the WEF on Africa has provided a platform for high-level debates and an exchange of ideas on economic and political issues affecting the continent.” Mwangi S. Kimyeni, Future Cape Town

Africa is the second fastest growing region globally, and as the economies of the African continent continue to grow, it’s important that governments support sustainable growth to create jobs, tackle inequality, and lift their people out of poverty. The theme of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013 is “Delivering on Africa’s Promise” – apt given Africa’s growing middle class and the global demand for Africa’s resources.

Taking place in Cape Town, South Africa from 8–10 May 2013, the 23rd World Economic Forum on Africa will provide an important platform for regional and global leaders from business, government, and civil society to deepen Africa’s integration agenda and renew commitment to a sustainable path of growth and development by addressing the following issues:

  • Accelerating economic diversification
  • Boosting strategic infrastructure, and
  • Unlocking Africa’s talent.

Government commitment is required

In order to unlock Africa’s potential and sustain the positive growth rates, African leaders need to commit to:

It is critical that the path of growth and development, which is forged through these commitments, is supported and sustained through a concerted effort across a number of areas and sectors in Africa.

The infrastructure deficit – impacting growth and development

The infrastructure deficit is regularly noted as a major contributor to reduced growth and investment across the continent. Government leaders are required to commit to accelerating investment in the sector in order to improve competitiveness and secure broader investment in the region.

“The region has registered a persistent and worrisome infrastructure deficit: despite gradual improvements in the run-up to the financial crisis, the quality and quantity of infrastructure has largely stagnated at low levels since then, in part due to a decline in investment following the financial crisis. The infrastructure deficit is particularly striking given gradual improvements across the various efficiency enhancers (e.g. market efficiency, technological readiness) in the past years.”  World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013

A varied and complex political landscape

Africa’s political and economic landscape, over the last two decades, has been a complex and varied one- a factor that has presented both challenges and opportunities for the region. Paired with global factors, such as the financial crisis, the trajectory of growth in the region has been equally as varied.

Government participation in the World Economic Forum on Africa is undoubtedly a step toward “Delivering on Africa’s promise” and addressing the issues plaguing the continent. Through the WEF, African leaders will have a firmer understanding of the broader perspectives and concerns at play.

What are your views on the key areas of commitment, and how do you see government playing a role in the future growth on the continent?

David Okwara

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