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World Economic Forum Opens Wednesday in Rwanda


A screenshot from weforum.org shows an image promoting the World Economic Forum in Kigali, Rwanda. Leaders from ten African countries and 1,500 delegates expected to attend the May 11-13 meeting.

A screenshot from weforum.org shows an image promoting the World Economic Forum in Kigali, Rwanda. Leaders from ten African countries and 1,500 delegates expected to attend the May 11-13 meeting.

Rwanda will host the 26th annual World Economic Forum on Africa starting Wednesday. Promoting innovation will be high on the agenda.

Leaders from ten African countries are expected at the forum this week in Kigali.

The goal of the World Economic Forum is to promote public-private partnership. And the theme of this year’s event in Africa is digital transformation, says forum spokesperson, Oliver Cann.

“What we are seeing at the moment is a whole change in the global economy. New technologies and new disruptive forces really have drastic effects on jobs, on businesses,” Cann says.

More than 1,500 delegates from global and regional corporations are expected to attend the May 11-13 meeting.

Cann says the top item on the forum’s “to do list” will be tackling obstacles to development.

“We need to improve education. It is not good enough. I believe the World Bank estimates that 70 percent of Africans leave school without the basic skills they need to compete. We need to create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive and prosper. We need to tackle corruption once and for all. It is a perennial problem. It is a big one,” Cann said.

FILE - Students use computers to study at a secondary school in Cape Town, South Africa, Nov. 7, 2013. The World Bank estimates that 70 percent of Africans leave school without the basic skills they need to compete.

FILE - Students use computers to study at a secondary school in Cape Town, South Africa, Nov. 7, 2013. The World Bank estimates that 70 percent of Africans leave school without the basic skills they need to compete.


Economic slowdown

The forum comes amid a stark economic slowdown in Africa. The global drop in price of oil and other commodities have hit some countries, like Nigeria, hard.

Emmanuel Nnadozie, executive secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation, said Africa needs to better protect itself from negative global trends.

“Well of course, the key issues will be how to ensure that African countries insulate themselves more and more from global economic shocks. In particular, when you have deterioration in the price of primary commodities, which is actually the origin of the current downturn that the continent is experiencing at this point in time,” Nnadozie said.

The International Monetary Fund reported earlier this month that growth in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to slow to a 16-year low. The Fund has called for a "substantial policy reset."

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