Sub-Saharan Africa’s future prosperity hinges on the ability of its leaders to create inclusive, sustainable growth at a time of rapid transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will be the main message coming from the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa 4-6 September.
The meeting will bring together 1,100 leaders from government, business and civil society, including ten heads of state or government. Top of the agenda will be new partnerships to create sustainable employment opportunities for Africa’s large and growing workforce.
The meeting will highlight: improving the funding and regulatory environments for start-ups; developing new partnerships for re-skilling and upskilling workers; identifying opportunities for green growth such as the circular economy; scaling-up e-commerce for rapid business growth, especially in the SME sector; and how to leverage the new Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement to drive regional integration.
Also high on the agenda are government policies and responsible business practices to provide a foundation for a more inclusive society. While globalization has driven economic growth, it is criticized for leading to unacceptable levels of income inequality. Tackling corruption, universal healthcare provision and protection of workers in the gig economy all have a role to play in building more equitable societies.
“The World Economic Forum brings top leaders together to create the conditions for socio-economic investment to happen. Africa, like all regions of the world, faces great challenges. For the region to prosper in an increasingly globalized world, it needs transparent governance, competitive economies and peaceful societies. This systemic change can only be achieved through multistakeholder collaboration,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the Forum.
New initiatives that will be launched at this week’s meeting include:
- The Africa Growth Platform, a coalition of governments and investors aiming to fast-track development of the region’s most promising start-ups and SMEs
- The Africa Risk Resilience Platform, a scheme to help governments prepare for, mitigate and prevent climate- and disease-related disasters with the support of the private sector
- Africa E-Commerce Agenda, a partnership between governments, the international trade community and the development community to create three million jobs by 2025
Heads of state or government participating in the meeting include: South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa; Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana; Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros; Mandulo Ambrose Dlamini, Prime Minister of Eswatini; Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia, Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, Hage Geingob, President of Namibia, Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria, Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, Danny Faure, President of Seychelles, Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe.
South African government leaders include: David D. Mabuza, Deputy President; Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance; Jackson Mthembu, Minister in the Presidency; Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of Small Business Development; Patricia de Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure; Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize, Minister of Health; Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training; Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry; Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises; Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport; Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services; Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation of South Africa, Barbara Dallas Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa.
Senior government leaders from other parts of Africa include: Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo, Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning of Equatorial Guinea; Mamadi Camara, Minister of Economy and Finance of Guinea; Safia Boly, Minister of Investment Promotion, Small and Medium Enterprises and National Entrepreneurship of Mali; Carl-Hermann Gustav Schlettwein, Minister of Finance of Namibia; Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda; Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Zambia and; Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Zimbabwe.
Leaders from outside the region are: Mohcine Jazouli, Minister-Delegate for Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation of Morocco; Xu Jinghu, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China; Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore; Xiana Mendez, Secretary of State for Trade of Spain; Daniela Stoffel Delprete, State Secretary for International Finance of Switzerland; Graham Stuart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Investment, Department for International Trade (DIT), United Kingdom and; Cyrus Habib, Lieutenant Governor of Washington, USA.
Representatives from international organizations are: Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, New York; Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, AUDA-NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Johannesburg; Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva; Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Geneva; Susanna Moorehead, Chair, Development Assistance Committee, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris; Valerie Guarnieri, Assistant Executive Director, Operations Services, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Rome; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Addis Ababa; Vijay Iyer, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), Washington DC; and Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva.
The Co-Chairs of the 2019 World Economic Forum on Africa are: Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer, The END Fund, USA; Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom; Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva; André Hoffmann, Vice-Chairman, Roche, Switzerland; Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman, A. T. Kearney, USA; Jim Ovia, Chairman, Zenith Bank, Nigeria, Sipho M. Pityana, Chairman, AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa.
Kenyan students learn about environmental law
In our globalized world, environmental threats require effective responses that promote peace, justice, development and the fulfilment of environmental and human rights. This is the responsibility of everyone; and we all have the right to be involved. We are all the leadership that the planet needs.
That’s what a group of Kenyan students were told in October 2019 when they participated in a lecture at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on international environmental law.
UNEP promotes a shared sense of environmental governance by building the capacity of those who affect the rules, policies and institutions that shape how humans interact with the environment.
UNEP experts spoke to students on basic governance and enforcement of international environmental law. International environmental law can involve many countries, as it does with the Paris Agreement, or a few countries, such as a regional environmental treaty. Sources of international environmental law can cover varied goals, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, or be specific to a certain issue, such as the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. We need international environmental law because many environmental problems are transboundary, regional or global in scope, and solutions require international cooperation and the adoption of common standards.
The students and UNEP experts deliberated over the weaknesses and strengths of international environmental laws and discussed how students could get more involved in tackling the issues. Students described the lecture as very useful and said that they were challenged to think of new and different aspects of environmental law.
Topics discussed included the divergent responsibilities of various groups regarding environmental governance and biotechnology, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, and plastic pollution and lessons from the plastic ban in Kenya.
To ensure that this learning continues outside the lecture theatre, the UNEP team shared learning resources with the students.
James Nyaro, a lecturer at the Kenyatta University, said on behalf of the institution: “You let us ask you questions… and responded to them comprehensively… and we cannot thank you enough.”
What should I know about international environmental law?
When states work together to create and implement international environmental law, great things can be achieved. The ozone layer is currently on track to heal completely in our lifetime and this will save two million people each year by 2030 from skin cancer. This success is due to international environmental law through the Montreal Protocol: an environmental treaty.
As everyone has the right to be involved in environmental management, we should all have a basic understanding of the laws that govern us. Countries are individually responsible for deciding and applying international environmental laws, yet the average citizen can be far removed from the processes involved in their development and implementation. As citizens, we should influence the progression and enforcement of international environmental law to ensure that it effectively tackles the issues we face. UNEP encourages everyone to learn what international environmental laws apply to their states through InforMEA. Knowledge is the first step towards creating environmental laws that work for us.
On 23 October 2019, postgraduate students from the School of Security, Diplomacy and Peace Studies at Kenyatta University were introduced to international environmental law by UNEP experts.
ADB Project to Improve Fiscal Management, Develop Capital Markets in Armenia
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $40 million-equivalent policy-based loan attached to reforms that help strengthen fiscal sustainability and develop the financial and capital markets in Armenia. These are crucial enablers of private sector development.
Armenia’s economic growth over the last few years has been hampered by low levels of investment, both foreign and domestic, given the high costs of local currency finance and related constraints in the financial system. Efficiency-promoting upgrades in public investment and fiscal management are also needed to ensure sustained improvements in fiscal outlook and sovereign risk pricing.
“Financial markets remain nascent in Armenia, which limits the development of the country’s private sector and the banking industry,” said ADB Senior Financial Sector Economist for Central and West Asia Mr. João Farinha Fernandes. “This also constrains public finance and fiscal management, while exposing the economy to financial stability risks. ADB’s assistance is intended to help ensure that Armenia develops a conducive fiscal and financial intermediation environment where private sector players, both big and small, can contribute to growth and development.”
ADB approved a $50 million policy-based loan in November 2018 as part of an ongoing programmatic engagement on financial reforms to strengthen public debt and fiscal risk management, and to develop financial markets in Armenia.
The Second Public Efficiency and Financial Markets Program continues these reforms by strengthening the effectiveness of the government’s fiscal risk management function; promoting the development of fiscally responsible public–private partnerships; and enhancing market transparency and predictability in public debt management. The program will also improve the infrastructure of the government securities market and money market infrastructure, enhancing the sustainability and resilience of Armenia’s finance sector.
Bangladesh Can Boost its Exports with Better Logistics
To meet the needs of its growing economy and to boost export growth, Bangladesh needs to improve its transport and logistics systems, says a new World Bank report launched today.
The report Moving Forward: Connectivity and Logistics to Sustain Bangladesh’s Success, finds that by making logistics more efficient, Bangladesh can significantly boost export growth, maintain its position as a leading ready-made-garments and textile producer, and create more jobs. The report notes that congestion on roads and in seaports, high logistics costs, inadequate infrastructure, distorted logistics service markets, and fragmented governance hamper manufacturing and freight, further eroding Bangladesh’s competitive edge and putting its robust growth path at risk.
“Bangladesh’s congested transportation and often unsophisticated logistics systems impose high costs to the economy,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. “By making its logistics more efficient, Bangladesh can significantly optimize its connectivity, business environment, and competitiveness, putting the country on the right path to become a dynamic upper-middle-income country.”
Efficient logistics, the report argues, has become one of the main drivers for global trade competitiveness and export growth and diversification. For Bangladesh, improving its logistics performance provides an opportunity to increase its world market share in garments and textiles, which account for 84 percent of its total exports, expand into new markets, and diversify its manufacturing and agriculture into high-value products.
The report notes that improving Bangladesh’s logistics requires a system-wide approach based on greater coordination among all public institutions involved in logistics and with the private sector, increasing the effective capacity of core infrastructure, and removing distortions in logistics service markets to reduce costs and improve quality. At a regional level, harmonizing its logistics systems and aligning its customs with that of its neighbors could turn Bangladesh into an important node for regional freight flows and further boost its trade.
“There’s no doubt that reforms and investments for better transport and logistics will yield Bangladesh substantial economic benefits and strengthen its competitive advantage,” said Matías Herrera Dappe, Senior Economist at the World Bank and author of the report. “But the solution to logistics is not just to invest more but to invest better, by focusing on the service gap, and creating the incentives for high quality and competitive logistics services.”
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