BSA, AFRICA INVESTOR CONVENES GLOBAL BUSINESS LEADERS FORUM
By Princewill Ekwujuru
BRAND South Africa (BSA) in partnership with Africa Investor(Ai), an international investment research and communications group, gather leaders from the world of politics, economics and international development to explore the need to sustain leadership in the private and public sectors to support regional economic integration, Infrastructure development, youth engagement and entrepreneurship, and increased political will as key drivers for future growth at 2012 World Economic Forum (WEF).
Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's Minister of Finance, opened the discourse with a keynote address where noted the need for the continent to take advantage of having a market of one billion people and some of the world's fastest growing economies, and become a more effective voice on the global stage.
He added: 'The great transition from West to East and South will continue, but we shouldn't delude ourselves that we are at the end of that - it is just beginning. You can't ignore a continent like Africa. In the next 15-20 years the focus on Africa will sharpen. It is in that context that we take a tough - but optimistic look - at regional economic integration. '
Rob Davies, South Africa's Minister of Trade and Industry, remarked before a panel session featuring Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank; Maria Ramos, CEO of Absa Group; and Caroline Kende-Robb, Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel.
'In spite of the challenges facing the global economy, Africa is growing but we need to turn growth into a sustained economic development effort, based on developing productive capacity within our countries,' said Davies.
He further disclosed that, 'the barriers to intra-regional trade are not just tariffs; they also include inadequate infrastructure and the need to produce more tradable goods. We have identified the need to industrialise the continent, to add value to mineral and agriculture products through beneficiation and to develop a pharmaceutical industry to eradicate diseases specific to the continent. We can do more by acting together; turning to the continent gives us the scale to turn the growth spurt into a sustained development effort.'
Following the ministerial remarks and panel session, attendees contributed to in-depth roundtable discussions, co-chaired by leaders in the business field and which focused on Trade and Job Creation; Inter-continental Partnerships; BRICS Partnerships; Fast-tracking Infrastructure Investments and Unleashing Agriculture Investment Potential.