As Africa continues its transformation into a hub of global economic growth, its positive outlook faces challenges including fluctuating commodity prices, rising inequality and youth unemployment. To address these challenges, Africa’s leaders need to strengthen national and regional competitiveness, foster inclusive growth and build resilience to a volatile global environment. Accelerating economic diversification, boosting strategic infrastructure and unlocking talent are therefore critical success factors in this new leadership context.
With these elements in mind, the 23rd World Economic Forum on Africa convened over 1,000 regional and global leaders from business, government and civil society from over 80 countries to debate how best to deepen the continent’s integration agenda and renew commitment to a sustainable path of growth and development.
Under the theme “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, participants addressed the region’s future through the lens of the thematic pillars in this year’s programme: Accelerating Economic Diversification, Boosting Strategic Infrastructure; and Unlocking Africa’s Talent. The 2013 World Economic Forum on Africa offered business, government and civil society leaders an opportunity to address pressing regional and global issues and gain insight on this triple imperative.
The Co-Chairs of the meeting reflect the diverse group of leaders who gathered in Cape Town and highlight the importance of continuing to enlarge the dialogue across stakeholder groups. This year’s programme focused on the enabling environment required to expand globally competitive local industries; new growth models that are delivering structural transformation and inclusive growth; and how Africa’s new partners can unleash the potential of new markets.
However, economic, social and soft infrastructure gaps continue to constrain economic growth, regional integration and social development. As such, participants examined crucial infrastructure developments to accelerate delivery of the continent’s potential; new solutions to bridge the gaps in the provision of infrastructure financing; and harmonizing cross-border legal and regulatory standards to increase intra-African trade.
Africa – home to the world’s fastest-growing youth population – can take advantage of its demographic dividend if its human resources can be equipped to manage and deliver growth effectively. Participants debated how the continent’s entrepreneurs can become global champions, scale up job creation and enhance social resilience; and explored the technological and social innovations and best practices that would allow the continent to reap the benefits of this dividend.
The open and frank discussions that took place in Cape Town made clear that stakeholders are prepared to take action to address these pressing issues, and are ready to transform Africa’s challenges into opportunities to realize the region’s growth potential and move towards regional integration.