By: Deonta D. Wortham
Tomorrow, members of academia, business leaders, and countless civil servants will converge upon Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa to discuss a plethora of economic issues that face the African continent at the 25th World Economic Forum on Africa.
This year's forum, given the theme "Then and Now: Reimagining Africa’s Future," will have three central ‘pillars’: Enabling Markets, Marshalling Resources, and Inspiring Creativity. Focusing on these three area's the forum aims to improve, engage, and lastly inspire actors capable of optimizing the continent’s economic prospects.
Above all, this esteemed group of individuals is meeting to display an unprecedented commitment to the role that collaboration between private and public sectors will have on the African continent’s evolving development process in the coming decades.
Since the inaugural World Economic Forum on Africa in 1990, the continent has witnessed countless economic and societal advances. Across the continent, annual growth rates of 8% are the “new norm.” New economic opportunities are arising in the region’s bustling urban centers. Human capital development across the continent is increasingly seen as a priority by regional and national authorities. Lastly, a growing cohort of international actors are increasing investing in Africa’s burgeoning economies. In short, the past twenty-five years have produced a 'new' Africa.
However, countless issues still plague the continent.
Today, only 19% of Africa’s highways are paved. Nearly two-thirds of Africa’s burgeoning youth population have failed to acquire ‘equitable’ skills needed to enter the labor market. Numerous travel restrictions prevent African goods, and people, from crossing national borders in an efficient manner. Finally, fears of political instability and market fragility have limited the flow of foreign capital into many African markets.
These are longstanding issues that have existed for decades, it is up to the individuals attending this year’s World Economic Forum to collaboratively address concerns that are actively suppressing the African economy's development. Though not every development related issue will be solved over the course of three days, inclusive conversations and proactive discussions can certainly prompt exchanges on how to address these issues in the coming years.
The World Economic Forum serves an incubator for sustainable and transformative solutions. Here’s to a worthwhile conference, that will hopefully initiate transformative collaboration across the continent!