Africa’s promise: a discussion on economic potential

World leaders in government and business will gather in Cape Town to discuss ‘Delivering on Africa’s Promise’ – the theme for May’s World Economic Forum on Africa 2013.

The 23rd World Economic Forum on Africa will bring together leaders from government and the business world to explore the theme of ‘Delivering on Africa’s Promise’, at a three-day event in Cape Town, South Africa held from 8-10 May 2013.

Frannie Léautier Executive Secretary, The African Capacity Building Foundation, Zimbabwe, says: “To achieve sustainable growth in Africa, development must be lodged in strategic cooperation and strengthened partnerships… Africa’s future rests in our hands, but is also dictated by today’s actions and decisions.”

The key themes of accelerating economic diversification, boosting strategic infrastructure and unlocking Africa’s talent will be explored through a number of interactive, workshop, interview and panel sessions. These sessions will tackle diverse issues such as infrastructure projects, common misconceptions about investing in Africa and tapping into the human resource potential of Africa’s women. The emphasis of the forum discussions is on participation and those attending are invited to contribute actively to constructive, lively debate with speeches being strongly discouraged. Registration for the Forum will be on Wednesday 8 May and the sessions will run on Thursday and Friday, finishing with a Farewell Reception at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CICC).

Interactive sessions will address key issues on the regional agenda in an interactive and informal panel setting. There are no prepared speeches and the moderator will encourage a lively discussion among the panellists, while participants in the audience also have the opportunity to pose questions to the panellists. Work Studio and Workshop sessions will be facilitated group or table discussions, focusing on a compelling challenge or complex issue. They are designed with specific tasks and objectives in mind and provide the highest level of interaction between participants and discussion leaders.

Arena Sessions will offer interactive debate with top government, business and civil society leaders in an intimate, yet stimulating environment. Prepared speeches by the panel will be kept to a minimum in favour of intensive discussions under the guidance of a moderator. One-on-one interview sessions aim to elicit insightful and challenging perspectives on Africa’s transformation from a select group of global and regional thought leaders. Each session introduces a guest who is an inspiring individual from business, government, academia or civil society.

Meanwhile, New Solutions sessions will highlight the creative approaches of the Forum’s communities to solving some of the region’s most intractable issues. Each panellist presents a concrete solution, followed by a facilitated group discussion on its impact and scalability.

Some sessions will be broadcast on the forum’s website or televised for a global audience. However, in order to encourage free-flowing debate by protecting the identities and affiliations of speakers, blogging and tweeting in sessions is not permitted without the permission of the speaker. Furthermore, sessions that are not open to the reporting press are held under Chatham House Rule, affording speakers the same protection and fostering an open and frank atmosphere of debate.

The Social Entrepreneurs Award 2013 for Africa will take place on Thursday and will be a highlight of the conference. Awarded by the Schwab Foundation and chosen from a diverse group of people from different sectors and countries across the region, the Social Entrepreneurs Award recognises entrepreneurs who implement innovative solutions to social and environmental problems with financially sustainable models. The award ties in with another of the conference’s New Solutions sessions on how Africa’s entrepreneurs can be transformed into global champions, through adapting policy ecosystems to encourage entrepreneurship, improving access to capital for SMEs and connecting global value chains.

The World Economic Forum on Africa comes soon after the March BRICS summit in Durban. With that in mind, one session on Thursday examines how collaboration with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) empowers Africa to deliver on its promise through maintaining investment and economic dynamism, building intra-regional infrastructure links and sharing best practices for workforce development and job creation. A cultural soirée hosted by the Government of South Africa will be held on Thursday evening.

Friday will see sessions on a broad range of subjects including: ‘Africa 2063: From Fragility to Stability: As African economies transform over the next 50 years, how will political and geopolitical tensions in the region be managed?’; ‘Africa’s Values Context: What tensions and transformations are shaping the debate on values and identity in Africa?’; and ‘New Solutions: Investing in Green Growth: How are stakeholders partnering to create green growth investment opportunities in Africa?’ The day and the Forum will end with a farewell reception.

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the forum is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.


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