28th WEF on Africa to Focus on Inclusive Growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
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.
Confrontation between US and Chinese ships in South China Sea
A US Navy destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea and sparked yet another confrontation between the US and China for the second day in a row, informs London’s ‘The Independent’.
The first confrontation occurred when the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer sailed near the group of islands.
Next day the ship was spotted again in the vicinity of the islands, as part of a “freedom of navigation operation” challenging requirements from China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, that require advance notification or permission before a military vessel can pass through.
China said that the US’s actions violate its sovereignty and security and said its navy and air force had forced the American vessel away, something the US military has denied. Beijing also warned the US of “serious consequences”.
The latest incident comes as tensions between the US and China have plumetted to new lows.
“The United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant,” said US 7th Fleet spokesman Luka Bakic.
China’s Ministry of National Defense responded by accusing the US of “undermining the peace and stability of the South China Sea”.
“The act of the US military seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, severely breached international laws, and is more ironclad evidence of the US pursuing navigation hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea,” ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said.
He said China will take “all necessary measures” to ensure security, but did not elaborate further.
In recent years, China has become increasingly assertive in the region, prompting the US to push back.
The South China Sea is an important waterway for global trade, with around $5 trillion in trade passing through each year. Additionally, the area holds valuable fish stocks and undersea mineral resources.
Seymour Hersh: The cover-up
This is a new comment of American journalist Seymour Hersh: “It’s been six weeks since I published a report, based on anonymous sourcing, naming President Joe Biden as the official who ordered the mysterious destruction last September of Nord Stream 2, a new $11-billion pipeline that was scheduled to double the volume of natural gas delivered from Russia to Germany.
The story gained traction in Germany and Western Europe, but was subject to a near media blackout in the US.
Two weeks ago, after a visit by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Washington, US and German intelligence agencies attempted to add to the blackout by feeding the New York Times and the German weekly Die Zeit false cover stories to counter the report that Biden and US operatives were responsible for the pipelines’ destruction.
Press aides for the White House and Central Intelligence Agency have consistently denied that America was responsible for exploding the pipelines, and those pro forma denials were more than enough for the White House press corps.
There is no evidence that any reporter assigned there has yet to ask the White House press secretary whether Biden had done what any serious leader would do: formally “task” the American intelligence community to conduct a deep investigation, with all of its assets, and find out just who had done the deed in the Baltic Sea.
According to a source within the intelligence community, the president has not done so, nor will he. Why not? Because he knows the answer.
In early March, President Biden hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington. The trip included only two public events — a brief pro forma exchange of compliments between Biden and Scholz before the White House press corps, with no questions allowed; and a CNN interview with Scholz by Fareed Zakaria, who did not touch on the pipeline allegations.
The chancellor had flown to Washington with no members of the German press on board, no formal dinner scheduled, and the two world leaders were not slated to conduct a press conference, as routinely happens at such high-profile meetings. Instead, it was later reported that Biden and Scholz had an 80-minute meeting, with no aides present for much of the time.
There have been no statements or written understandings made public since then by either government, but I was told by someone with access to diplomatic intelligence that there was a discussion of the pipeline exposé and, as a result, certain elements in the Central Intelligence Agency were asked to prepare a cover story in collaboration with German intelligence that would provide the American and German press with an alternative version for the destruction of Nord Stream 2.
In the words of the intelligence community, the agency was “to pulse the system” in an effort to discount the claim that Biden had ordered the pipelines’ destruction…” stresses Seymour Hersh.
FORBES: Where is the Russian banking crisis?
“Sanctions were supposed to kill the Russian financial sector. It did, and it didn’t. Where is the Russian banking crisis?” – FORBES is perplexed.
Yes, sanctions have hurt Russia’s financial institutions. But a Russian banking crisis, one that looks like we have seen in the U.S. recently with Silicon Valley Bank and in Switzerland with Credit Suisse, has not occurred.
There were never any runs on Russian banks. The ruble strengthened. And while most banks are protected by the state – led by Sberbank and VTB – the Russian Central Bank has spent much of the last decade working to clean up the financial system.
For this reason, Russian banks have survived the West’s sanctions regime and stock market delistings better than anyone would have imagined. For a cynical Russian, watching Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse burn down while their bankers are gainfully employed is like smirking before the camera lens in front of a burning building.
Had the sanctions come at the time when the Russian Central Bank was cleaning up its “zombie banks” – all hell would have broken loose. But seeing how much of that mess was swept away prior to the 2022 sanctions regimes taking hold, Russia’s banks remain safe and sound, even if Russian investors in those banks have lost their shirt.
The sanctions policy, the hardest ever taken out on Russia, is 13 months old. New ones pop up regularly. It is unclear what can possibly be next, as Russia’s financial institutions have already been largely cut off from the Western system.
Russia’s financial sector, and its banks at home, aren’t making headlines like banks in the U.S. and Europe are. They have withstood the onslaught of sanctions.
They’ve lost their European and U.S. assets, which will not be recovered for years to come, if ever. Sberbank CEO Herman Gref said in press reports that Sberbank is “the most attacked entity” in the country, which experiences “unprecedented challenges in terms of complexity and power.” He said Sberbank lost nearly all of its assets abroad, leading to massive write-downs.
Yet, Russian president Vladimir Putin smirks at the burning buildings of Credit Suisse and the lost $200 billion in Silicon Valley Bank deposits, needing unprecedented FDIC support to protect account holders. The bank is now insolvent. His biggest banks remain only because most of Russia’s banks over the years have been folded and rendered insolvent. And a danger to the Russian financial system was liquidated.
“Thanks to the professional actions of our banking community, government agencies, and the efforts of the central bank, I want to emphasize that we managed to overcome all these (sanctions) difficulties in general,” Putin reportedly said in Moscow earlier this month after meeting with Sberbank’s CEO. He said that Sberbank’s current stable position was “a good signal for the whole economy.”
With sanctions expected to remain for a long time to come, will Russia’s heavily sanctioned banks fold one day, too?
“Who knows what will happen in Russia, because we all only know what we read in the press and what we read in the press is that Russia did a smart job handling their banks pre-sanctions and so after sanctions they have managed okay,” says famous commodities investor Jim Rogers from his home in Singapore, who has been a director of Russian fertilizer company PhosAgro. “We saw the ruble go down when sanctions were first imposed, then it went up. So in that case alone, the market tells me that somebody in Russia did something right,” he says.
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