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  World Economic Forum on Africa
    Cape Town, 31 May 2 June 2006
World Economic Forum on Africa Home   

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"Is growth the new gospel of the continent? We do need to address the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment. We have to make advances." Thabo Mbeki President of South Africa
Participants at the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2006 sought to build on Africa's recent success in achieving its best growth performance in decades. While they were eager to spread the good news, the fresh confidence among the more than 700 business, government and civil society leaders gathered in Cape Town was balanced by sober realism. Growth has to be even faster if Africa is to make a significant dent in poverty and attack major problems such as hunger, the lack of infrastructure and healthcare deficiencies, particularly in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Time is not on Africa's side: the emergence of China and India, while boosting African trade and investment, underscores the tougher competition in the global economy.
While Africa is "going for growth", it must find solutions with long-term, sustainable impact. The meeting produced a number of these solutions, including the launch of the Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa with initial funding of US$ 100 million, and the NEPAD (The New Partnership for Africa's Development) e-Schools Initiative to fund Internet access in 120schools in 16 African countries by mid-2007, with the ultimate goal of connecting all African schools within ten years.
Participants in Cape Town focused on six sub-themes: The Year of Africa in Review, Boosting African Growth, The Impact of China and India, Foundations for Progress in Physical and Social Infrastructure, Tackling Risks to Prosperity and Strengthening Branding and Changing Perceptions.
These are the key messages that emerged from the three days of interactive discussions:

The Year of Africa in Review
"Action is what counts. This is Africa's moment, not of greatest need, but of greatest opportunity." Niall FitzGerald Chairman, Reuters, United Kingdom; Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum
The world focused unprecedented attention on Africa in 2005, which was dubbed the "Year of Africa".
•  Unprecedented economic growth on the continent suggests that the concerted efforts of the international community to boost Africa's development are paying off.
•  Initiatives such as the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Millennium Challenge Account have yielded some initial positive results.
•  The general investment climate in Africa has improved, as indicated by the rapid increase in trade with and investment from China and India.
•  Significant development challenges remain. Africa needs a development decade a year is not enough.
"We have brought peace to Africa; now we can look at our development. Our development will come from our own investment, and that investment will come with economic growth. The development of Africa depends on Africans." Firmino Mucavele Chief Executive, NEPAD Secretariat, South Africa
Boosting African Growth
"We can't have sustained poverty reduction and employment without growth." Charles Soludo Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Co-Chair, World Economic Forum on Africa
While many countries in Africa are enjoying record growth, the challenge is to sustain the expansion and reduce poverty.
•  Growth in sub-Saharan Africa climbed to 5% in 2005, with inflation dropping to its lowest point in more than two decades.
•  Capital flows are now outpacing aid.
•  This offers Africa the opportunity to address persistent impediments to sustainability such as the skills shortage and the lack of infrastructure.
•  But 300 million Africans continue to live in dire poverty.
"China is diversifying the monopoly of investors in Africa." Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Deputy President of South Africa
The Impact of China and India
"There are a lot of new ideas on the continent, in the private sector. There's a lot of creativity. We are beginning to see a huge number of African entrepreneurs who are starting new businesses and growing them." Patrice T. Motsepe Executive Chairman, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), South Africa
China and India's deeper engagement with Africa offers both opportunity and cause for caution.
•  The need for China and India to fuel their surging growth has boosted trade between resource-rich Africa and the two Asian economic giants.
•  Africa needs to develop a coherent strategy with which to approach relations with China and India. NEPAD could offer a useful platform for the management of those ties.
•  Because of their development experiences, China and India offer valuable models for Africa as the continent seeks to achieve sustainable growth.
Foundations for Progress in Physical and Social Infrastructure
"We have to be realistic; we have to compete in the global economy. When we talk about growth, we must accept that we are going to lose jobs in some sectors. That's also part of being part of the global economy." Maria Ramos Group Chief Executive, Transnet, South Africa; Co-Chair, World Economic Forum on Africa
To achieve sustainable growth, Africa must put in place necessary infrastructure both bricks-and-mortar facilities such as roads, ports and airports and the basic "software" of development such as education and healthcare services.
•  Africans will not be able to enjoy the benefits of high growth if they are not provided adequate healthcare and education, as well as the physical infrastructure to provide access to clinics, hospitals and schools.
•  Access to water and energy, as well as information and communications technology, is essential to sustaining economic growth.
•  School attendance has risen dramatically but more must be done if the continent is to remedy its severe lack of skills
•  Countries must invest more in health services, including education to promote proper hygiene and control the spread of disease.
"An enabling environment is Africa's biggest landmine in the process of developing the continent. Regional cooperation will make a huge difference. It starts with Forums like this. This is a big forum in which we can create home-grown solutions for home-grown problems African problems." J. Adewale Tinubu Group Chief Executive Officer, Oando, Nigeria
Tackling Risks to Prosperity
"In Africa, you need alternative modes of financing [such as microfinance] which have been very successful in India. It is the bottom of the pyramid that pays back all the money." Syamal Gupta Chairman, Tata International, India; Co-Chair, World Economic Forum on Africa
Because global risks are interconnected, confronting them requires a concerted, multifaceted approach.
•  It is important to appreciate how risks are linked to understand how solutions are connected.
•  Adequate infrastructure, for example, will ensure timely delivery of health services and access to schools, which are essential to boosting performance in healthcare and education.
•  Business must play a greater role in pushing forward initiatives to mitigate the risks affecting Africa. The Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa is an example of an innovative public-private partnership designed for that purpose.
"Governments throughout Africa are beginning to realize that the private sector is where jobs are created. Let companies run so that in turn they create more revenues for the government that can be used for things like healthcare." Jim Goodnight Chief Executive Officer, SAS, USA; Co-Chair, World Economic Forum on Africa
Strengthening Branding and Changing Perceptions
"We can only win the fight against corruption if each and every one of us has zero-tolerance for it. Each of us is a potential taker or a giver, and we need the courage to say no." Arunma Oteh Vice-President, African Development Bank, Tunis
Africa lacks the international image that correctly reflects the new dynamism and confidence that is palpable on the continent.
•  Africans must aim for proper branding. The positive Africa story needs to be told.
•  A public relations campaign may be required to change perceptions. In 2010, South Africa stands to capitalize on its hosting of the World Cup football finals.
•  To sustain the rebranding effort, Africa must pursue leadership reform to underpin its institutions and the democratic values its people have fostered, particularly the rule of law and freedom of expression.
•  Although a problem everywhere, corruption is a scourge that has long contributed to Africa's poor image. Africans must squarely address this challenge.
"African brands can travel, but it is hard work and we have to be more innovative about how we do it." Susan M. Clark Member of the Executive Committee and Director, Corporate Affairs, SABMiller, United Kingdom

World Economic Forum on Africa co-chair Charles Soludo, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, leads the growth discussion with
Armando Emilio Guebuza, President of Mozambique; Lars Thunell, Executive Vice-President, International Finance Corporation (IFC),
Washington DC; Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, on his left and Jakaya M. Kikwete, President of Tanzania, on his right