Some of the world’s most influential business leaders, statesmen and non-governmental organizations will be in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum this week (1/23-27.) They’ll be talking about a broad range of issues that affect world development. Voice of America English to Africa Service’s William Eagle reports.
Stephane Oertel is a manager with the Africa team of the Forum. He says one of the themes of this year’s meeting is The Power of Collaborative Innovation. “What it tries to highlight,” he says, “is we are experiencing a leadership vacuum on many critical issues looming on the horizon be it climate change, the international financial governance structure, energy efficiency, nuclear proliferation…all of these big macro issues need collaboration among different actors and stakeholders and innovation – a new way of doing things, a new way forward…. not as it is today: everyone working on things from their little corner but no one trying to work things out together.”
Oertel says private-public partnerships between government and business is the best way to deal with issues that affect the developing world, including Africa.
“Global corporations” he says, “are so powerful that they need to play a bigger role. Governments have to become less suspicious of their role in fulfilling certain public duties. These things will make a huge difference in Africa where the corporate sector is becoming more and more active and playing a bigger role. Some African governments are suspicious of that role that companies want to play and we need to do a bit of work there to bring these two actors together who do not speak [the] same language and do not have [the] same vision. We see it as part of our role to bring all these stake holders together and get them to start a dialogue out of which action will grow.”
He notes that the World Economic Forum already sponsors several projects that include both the private and public sectors, including The Energy Poverty Alliance, which is working to bring electricity to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Hunger Initiative, which is working with private companies to help food production in Western Kenya by improving the distribution of seeds and fertilizers.