In early May, South Africa hosted the 27th World Economic Forum on Africa, which promised, “achieving inclusive growth through responsive and responsible leadership.”
Various business and government leaders gathered in Durban, South Africa to discuss some of the economic challenges that Africa is facing, as well as Africa’s stance on the global economy and the fourth industrial revolution.
It is estimated that over 40 percent of people on the continent of Africa are living in poverty. The World Bank states that even the most optimistic calculations show about 330 million poor Africans in recent years. Additionally, the host nation, South Africa, has experienced sluggish economic growth recently. With all of the progress to be made in Africa, “inclusive growth” being the staple of this forum is vital, as sub-Saharan growth is at the lowest levels seen in 20 years.
This year, South African President Jacob Zuma urged the youth in Africa to aid in the realization of the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063, as it has been a focal point that the younger generation holds the key to the future of Africa.
Another key point made from this World Economic Forum on Africa was from South African’s Finance Minister, Malusi Gigabi. Gigabi warned that the Brexit and an increase in protectionism could reduce growth in Africa by reducing international trade.
One of the highest profile speakers was actor and UNESCO Special Envoy, Forrest Whittaker, whose message was regarding the young people who save lives in war-ridden communities in South Sudan.
Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank, pushed for an increase in intra-regional trade, as only 15 percent of African trade is region-to-region. He went on to say, “we are poor because we are not trading amongst ourselves.”
Overall, the acknowledgment of the current economic problems and the multiple plans on trade and increasing jobs for African youth are good for the reduction of poverty long term. It is necessary that these plans are held up, as some of the countries in Africa have seen the least rates of growth and poverty reduction over the past 30 years in comparison with the rest of the world.
– Dustin Jayroe