As the only African G20 economy, South Africa convened the eagerly anticipated 27th World Economic Forum on Africa in the week. More than 1000 regional and global leaders from business, government and civil society descended onto Durban’s shores to explore ideas and solutions to create economic opportunities for all Africans. With Tourism Indaba also coming up in a few days, the city can boast to be among the most formidable business event hosts in the African continent.
Here is an overview of highlights and key sessions from the Forum:

Report: SA still amongst the most competitive economies in Africa – WEF Africa
According to WEF, competitiveness in this report constitutes the factors, institutions, and policies that determine a country’s economic level  as well as the path of prosperity that a country can achieve. The latest report examines African economies that are best positioned for success.

Notable highlights, recommendations and trends identified in the report include:

  • Mauritius ranked as the most competitive economy in Africa, followed by South Africa, Rwanda and Botswana.
  • Africa has made big progress on a number of crucial competitiveness dimensions over the past decade. The positive trends on governance and the business environment; quality of macro-economic policy and human capital development; tourism as well as progress on health and literacy have been remarkable.
  • On the downside, most challenges cited in the 1st publication of the report 10 years ago still These include large infrastructure deficits, significant skill mismatches, inclusive growth, slow adoption of new technologies as well as weak institutions.
  • Better policies are needed to create jobs in Africa. The working-age population on the continent is expected to grow close to around 450m people by 2035, and as current trends continue, only about 100m of them will find stable jobs. Countries able to enact policies conducive to job creation will reap significant benefits from growth in the working population
  • For cities to play their role in strong economic growth, they need to become more competitive as business and tourism destinations. Currently, many African cities experience shortages of formal housing and an increase in slums. Strategic urban development planning is needed and must take into account social, political, economic and environmental contexts. By 2050, 58% of all Africans will live in cities. (Percentage currently at 40).
  • South Africa ranked 11 out of a global 138 countries for financial market development; 64/138 for infrastructure and 30/138 for market size. It did not perform well in health and primary education (123/138) as well as labour market inefficiency (97/138).

Click here to view more key findings from the report and to download it

Panel Session: Leadership in an era of disruption
The panel covered trending disruptors of business, ranging from civil protest and terrorism to the evolving dynamics between Africa and the global economic powers. The panel also answered the key question of how can Africa’s leaders could better respond to and manage the range of challenges it faces. Click here to more from this panel session

Panel Session: Update on South Africa and Nigeria
The panel discussed how recent national, regional and global transformations are defining South Africa’s and Nigeria’s future. The panel also addressed the following:

  • Consequences of currency depreciation
  • Implications of ratings downgrade
  • Impact of politics on the economy.
    Click here to see more from this panel session 

Quotes from Minister Gigaba: (Probably the busiest individual at WEF Africa 2017)
It seemed every delegate wanted five minutes of the newly appointed Finance Minister’s time. Here are some memorable quotes from Minister Gigaba from the Forum:

  • ‘’Hosting the WEF Africa Forum in Durban will showcase Durban as one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations and show why South Africa continues to be the gateway to Africa’’
  • ‘’Africans must not expect others to invest in what we ourselves are not ready to invest in. Our resources may be limited but they are not insignificant. We need to mobilise our domestic savings and capital markets to invest in deals in Africa’’
  • ‘’In our country we speak about radical economic transformation, which in our view will take us on the path to inclusive growth and a better life for all.’’

Click here to view the video session: ‘An Insight, An Idea with Minister Malusi Gigaba’     

Other useful WEF Africa Forum links

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