The 3-day World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa ended in Durban, South Africa, on Friday with inclusive growth, intra-Africa trade, employing digital economy featuring prominently in the discussions.
South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in his closing remarks said there was a consensus on the challenges and opportunities facing the continent. Ramaphosa said there was agreement that they urgently address exclusion, inequality and unemployment.
“This meeting has underscored the broad consensus among policy makers, business people, development practitioners, activists and communities that the continent needs to pursue a path of accelerated economic growth that is sustainable and inclusive,” said Ramaphosa.
“It is this fundamental imperative that is the critical guarantor of sustained and sustainable inclusive growth on the African continent. The people of this continent must not only share in the benefits of this growth. They must own, control and direct the levers of economic activity,” he added.
He said the outcomes of WEF will transform Africa from a continent of promise into a continent of prosperity. He said the youths needs to be capacitated to meet the global challenges and develop economies.
Ramaphosa said intellectual capacity of the Africans should be developed to utilize the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution.
The deputy president called for the continent to address the social, cultural and economic factors that limit their access to education. To address the inclusiveness there should be focus on rural poor, migrant communities and those displaced by conflict so that they are able to access quality education, he said.
South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said the continent should improve intra-Africa trade. He said new markets should be identified and used in the continent.
“African countries need to identify new markets to focus more on trading with one another, identify markets in emerging economies and trade with those countries that are still open to trade,” said Gigaba.
According to a WEF report, intra-Africa trade account for 10-12 percent of the continent’s overall trade. While Africa contributes a smaller potion of the global markets (1 percent), its exports to Europe are around 60 percent of Africa’s exports.
Sugan Palanee, Africa Head of Markets at EY, told Xinhua that there were some positive engagements between governments, business and the general pubic. There were discussions mostly on how to breach the digital divide and use it for economic growth.
Palanee said discussion on youths and women empowerment featured prominently during the WEF Africa 2017. Interventions were put forward to up-skill the youth to prepare them for the market and interventions were announced in East Africa to empower women and increase their financial inclusion.
Palanee said Africa’s attractiveness is increasing with many looking at it for longer-term agreements.
“2016 was a bad year for Africa but the output for 2017 would be better. We are not out of the woods yet but this year and beyond it looks positive,” he added.