The 2010 World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa being held in Dar es Salaam this
week promises to be one of the most important and exciting events that the
Geneva-based non-profit organization has ever organised.
It will not only mark the 20th anniversary of the WEF’s engagement with
Africa but also coincides with the 40th anniversary of the WEF organisation
as a whole.
Over the years, the WEF-Africa has been one of the most creative and
far-reaching of any of the international meetings organised in Africa and
with the continent as its focus.
This year, in a break from WEF-Africa traditions, the forum is taking place
in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
In the last five years it has always been held in Cape Town and drawn robust
support from the South African government. But the WEF-Africa has taken a
bold decision to rotate the forum, in alternating years, around the various
regions of the continent.
“The decision to move the venue around will give exposure to Accra,
Nairobi, Mauritius, or wherever the WEF-Africa is held,” according to
Katherine Tweedie, Head of WEF-Africa.
“I do think it will change the dynamics of the meetings dramatically. I
think we’re already seeing a broader participation from other countries in
Africa who might not have come to South Africa in the past,” she adds.
“Until you start to move this meeting on an alternating basis into other
parts of Africa you cannot really get the real discussions going. What
we’re hoping to achieve with this meeting is that it is very much a success
from a continental perspective, from an engagement and participation
perspective, and that this will be the overall experience of the
individuals who come. Each alternating year we will be going from South
Africa to another country.”
This year, the honour falls to East Africa and Dar es Salaam to host the
WEF-Africa event, and hundreds of top-level delegates from Africa’s private
sector will meet with Heads of State and Ministers from across Africa to
debate the issues and challenges that confront the continent.
President Jakaya Kikwete, is clearly enthusiastic about the country holding
He says: “It is heartening to see the positive effect that the World
Economic Forum has on key issues of global concern. This unique gathering
regularly convenes a very diverse group of friends of the continent who are
united in their optimism about what Africa can, must and will achieve.”
The WEF has already announced that nearly 1,000 participants from 85
countries will take part in the Dar es Salaam meeting.
The forum this year explores the theme "Rethinking Africa's Growth
"Africa is a continent full of potential. Africa has been growing despite
the economic instability that is facing the world today. We will have the
opportunity to examine the strategy of Africa for today to ensure that
there is a better tomorrow," Kikwete remarked ahead of the gathering.
"2010 is a special year for both the World Economic Forum, which is
celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Africa meeting, and Africa, which
is marking 50 years since the start of the independence movement that
transformed the continent's geopolitical landscape," said Tweedie.
"It is fitting to celebrate this milestone year by hosting the Africa
meeting for the first time in East Africa, with the strong support of His
Excellency President Kikwete, and the government and business community of
Tanzania. At this pivotal point, as Africa and the rest of the world seek
answers to the economic crisis, the meeting will bring together leaders
under the theme 'Rethinking Africa's Growth Strategy' to find real
In a statement last week, the WEF said the economic crisis had acted as a
wake-up call to speed up implementation of long-discussed reforms.
Emerging markets, including those in Africa, are among the first to show
signs o f a recovery and are forecast to increasingly contribute to global
growth in the next decade.
The meeting will provide leaders with a platform for how they are facing up
to the challenge and using the crisis as an opportunity to redesign a
sustainable roadmap for Africa's future.
Heads of state/government from Africa who have confirmed their
participation include presidents Armando Emilio Guebuza of Mozambique; Paul
Kagame of Rwanda; Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba of Gabon; Hifikepunye Pohamba of
Namibia, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Boni Yayi of Benin.
Others are Prime Ministers Raila Amolo Odinga of Kenya, Morgan Tsvangirai
of Zimbabwe and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.
Other leaders who will participate include Vice President Ali Mohammed
Shein, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Donald Kaberuka, South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy, World Bank Vice President for Africa Region Obiageli Ezekwesili and UN
Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro.
Prof. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, will also be in attendance.
In addition, the Forum's Young Global Leaders Summit will be held concurrently in Dar es Salaam and will integrate over 200 of the world's top young leaders in the meeting.
Discussions will address how African nations are managing relations with key economic partners, with an increasing trend towards greater South-South cooperation .
As Africa joins India and China in crossing the billion person mark, its young population, natural resources and market potential are catalysts for significant future growth and development.
The WEF is an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
The AfDB said its participation at the Dar es Salaam forum will focus on two key areas - knowledge
production, management and dissemination and the private sector as a strategic economic growth engine in Africa.
Given the recent global economic crisis and the ongoing reassessment of global cooperation, financial architecture, trade and climate change policies, the forum is a wake-up call to speed up implementation of reforms.
Participants will review how leaders are tackling the challenges posed by the crisis as well as how it can be used as an opportunity to redesign a sustainable roadmap for Africa's future within the new global economy.
The meeting is in line with the tradition of uniting African and global leaders to shape the continent's agenda. In this regard, the Forum's Global Redesign Initiative (GRI) will play a prominent role in the discussions.
Participants will also discuss how African nations are managing relations with key economic partners, with an increasing trend towards greater South-South cooperation. As Africa joins India and China in crossing the billion person mark, its young population, natural resources and market
potential are catalysts for significant future growth and development.
Furthermore, participants will review blockages to social and economic progress to harness this potential. Key issues include access to education, healthcare and affordable capital; new models of governance and a unified approach to ensuring peace and security in troubled areas.
These discussions will ensure a more conducive business climate and regulatory reforms can encourage both local and international investment. Most importantly, how can low-carbon, sustainable development plans be designed for Africa's economic drivers including its natural resources, agriculture