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World Economic Forum Summit on Africa Opens in Cape Town

Hundreds of participants from 42 countries are in Cape Town, South Africa, for a conference to promote African growth. It’s the 15th Africa Economic Summit, sponsored by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.

The main topic of the three-day meeting is an ambitious plan for Africa created by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It’s called the Commission for Africa Report, and it would give the continent 25 billion dollars of aid every year until 2010. It would also provide debt relief and break down trade barriers. African business leaders at the current conference are expected to endorse the plan ahead of a meeting next month of the G-8 – the world’s industrialized countries.

Dr. Mills Soko is the founding director of a Cape Town-based company, Hluma Research and Business Services. He’s also a lecturer at the University of Cape Town and other institutions of higher learning.

He told VOA English to Africa Service reporter William Eagle that he’s confident this summit will be more influential than some of the other Africa-related conferences of the World Economic Forum. He says that’s because this meeting is being attended by many entrepreneurs – and not just ministers. Also, the heads of several conglomerates say they’ll help lobby the G-8 to support the Commission for Africa plan - in part, by showing that the continent is a good place to invest.

Among the business leaders in favor of plan are the chief executive officers of Anglo-American mining, Lazarus Zim and Graham Mackay of the brewer SABMiller. Mr. Zim told the conference that his company is investing over four billion dollars in Africa over the next four years. According to the South African paper, Business Day, the head of SABMiller says that its African investments had recorded higher long-term growth than its other operations in other parts of the world "with the perceived risk having been offset by the returns."