World Economic Forum on Africa focuses on continent's transformation
ADDIS ABABA, May 7 (Xinhua) -- More than 700 participants from over 70 countries are scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa from Wednesday to Friday in Ethiopia to address the continent's transformation and seek solutions to challenges facing the land.
Africa is on the brink of a major transformation in which regional leaders are mulling measures to sustain the relatively fast economic development when the West is grappling with recovery.
Over the last decade, the continent, which was often associated with poverty, hunger and disease, is home to six of the world's 10 fastest growing economies. The number is expected to rise to seven in the five years to 2015, according to the projection by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"Africa is emerging as a major growth opportunity in the world, " Elsie Kanza, WEF head of Africa, told a conference held in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.
The World Bank forecast the growth rate of gross domestic product for the sub-Saharan Africa to be 5.3 percent for 2012 and 5.6 percent for 2013, higher than the 4.9 percent for 2011. The IMF put its estimated growth rate for the region at 5.5 percent for 2012.
"Right now we are seeing a stagnation of global economy, but the outlook for Africa is still very high," Kanza told Xinhua after the conference, adding the growth spurt over the past decade is expected to continue.
Despite the increasingly volatile global economy, African leaders are pursuing measures that will transform the region into the next global growth pole, she said. The forum will be a platform for them to develop new ideas and actions to achieve "further sustainable and inclusive growth," she added.
According to the organizers, eight African heads of state or government among 90 public figures will take part in the forum, including top leaders from Nigeria, Gabon, Djibouti, Rwanda, Tanzania and others.
Africa's economic rise has been boosted by exports of raw materials including oil and gas, which makes the economy vulnerable to price volatility.
"For growth to be more sustainable, we need to diversify the economic drivers, we can't be dependent on single commodities, and particularly primary commodities," Kanza said.
She said the political and business leaders at the forum will discuss how to move forward the environment and the activities that relate to value addition for more manufacturing in the continent and how to reduce barriers to investment in new areas such as retail, telecommunication and financial service.
Africa's promising economic prospect makes it an attractive investment opportunity, she said.
The WEF touches topics on Africa's transformation and is expected to generate new ideas to achieve further development on the continent.
Under the theme "Shaping Africa's Transformation", the Meeting' s agenda will integrate three pillars: strengthening Africa's leadership, accelerating investments in frontier markets, and scaling innovation for shared opportunities.
"Africa is experiencing strong growth and despite the increasingly volatile global economy, African leaders are pursuing measures that will transform the region into the next global growth pole. In this context, the WEF on Africa will seek to leverage the positive political, economic and social progress of recent years by providing a true multistakeholder platform to develop new ideas and actions to achieve further sustainable inclusive growth," said Kanza.
The meeting also attracts 61 Global Growth Company participants, more than 35 media leaders, and more than 30 young leaders from Young Global Leaders and Global Shaper Communities.