Oxfam report urges African leaders to build ‘human economy’

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Africa’s stance on the challenges facing the global economy and the impact of the fourth industrial revolution, which is aimed at driving change to global industries and business models, will come under scrutiny at this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa.

About 1 000 delegates, including Heads of States, global business leaders, and non-governmental organisations, will converge at the WEF on Africa which is scheduled to take place in Durban from 3-5 May.

This year’s theme is “Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership”.

WEF Africa 2017 comes as host country South Africa faces sluggish economic growth, subdued investment and increasing fiscal and economic policy uncertainty amidst credit rating downgrades.

The issue of “inclusive growth” will dominate discussions as the International Monetary Fund forecasts for sub-Saharan African growth are at their lowest level for 20 years.

According to a statement from the South African Presidency, WEF Africa 2017 will deliberate on important issues relating to the achievement of inclusive economic growth globally, and with specific focus on Africa.

“We believe that WEFA came at an opportune time for South Africa and the continent, when the world economy is beginning to pick up,” President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

“We hope that the forum will discuss vigorously the issue of the development of Africa, especially infrastructure development.”

Commenting on WEF Africa 2017, Paul Clark, fund manager and Africa specialist at Ashburton Investments, said hopefully this year’s summit would live up to expectations and truly show that the continent was on a growth path that would benefit all of its people.

Africa should stop imitating the failing policies of Europe and America…

Clark said an enabling environment was key in order to improve and grow manufacturing on the continent.

“Reliable electricity, good transport infrastructure, efficient ports and borders – plus an enabling business environment are just some of the many things that are needed before local innovators and entrepreneurs can compete effectively on a world stage,” Clark said.

Kunle Elebute, national senior partner at KPMG in Nigeria and chairman of KPMG West Africa, said Africa held many opportunities for future growth, though the continent was presented with a number of challenges.

“However, these opportunities can only be unlocked if we tackle them systematically, and if we focus on the core of what drives an economy – infrastructure, its people, and its ability to innovate and improve growth,” Elebute said.

Meanwhile, Oxfam has launched a report titled “Starting with People – A Human Economy Approach to Inclusive Growth in Africa” ahead of the WEF Africa 2017 which sets out how Africa’s political and business leaders can use economic and taxation policy and social spending to build economies that work for all.

Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam and co-chair of WEF Africa 2017, said: “Inequality in Africa is fuelling poverty, fracturing our societies, and stifling the potential of millions of people.

“It will become a major drag on economic growth. Africa should stop imitating the failing policies of Europe and America and develop a new economic model that works for all Africans – not just the fortunate few,” Byanyima said.

“African leaders must not kid themselves. If the wellbeing of people and the protection of the environment are our primary aims, rather than a hoped-for by-product of free markets, we need to explicitly design economies to achieve these things.”

WATCH:WEF on Africa 2017 underway

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