Davos 2022 – The World Economic Forum and Africa: What Benefits?

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting formally took off today in Davos, Switzerland, with speeches and sessions that as usual focused on global issues.

Happening under the theme of ‘History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies’, the meeting will have 200 sessions attended by more than 2,500 leaders and experts.

Some of the topics for the week-long session are quite interesting, and split across 8 key themes, including Climate and Nature, Fairer Economies, Tech and Innovation, Jobs and Skills, Better Business, Health and Healthcare, Global Cooperation as well as Society and Equity. From these topics will be discussed issues like the environment, agriculture, food and farming, Climate and Nature, rising energy prices, global supply chain problems, gender inequality and poverty, Democracy, Sanctions and other global economic issues. The Forum is also specially focusing on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The WEF 2022 meeting is the first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WEF 2022 in Session

It is estimated that out of over 2,500 leaders and experts from around the world, who will all be committed to a “Davos Spirit” of improving the state of the world, many of them would be African leaders, with presidents from several of the countries in the continent joining the world’s political and business elite in the events expected to run until Thursday May 26.

Some of the African Heads of State that have confirmed attendance include those from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Rwanda, with others represented at lower levels of government while top business leaders from other countries, including Nigeria, are also participating.

Although globalization is the keyword, some sessions will be devoted to specific parts of the world – Europe, the Americas, Middle East and others. But you need a searchlight to find the area devoted to Africa. But Africa always has huge representation and this prompts people to ask the benefit of these meetings to the continent, apart from providing opportunity for travel by government leaders.

At Davos 2022 that began today, only the theme tomorrow afternoon, May 24th titled Fairer Economies: Preparing for Africa’s Growing Global Role’ is directly focused on the issues of the continent and organisers have explained why the theme. According to them, “Africa is the youngest and fastest-growing continent. By 2035, more young Africans will enter the workforce each year than in the rest of the world combined, which brings huge opportunities, but major challenges too”. The session is expected provide answers to questions on how leaders across Africa can prepare for these changes and profer what they expect from the rest of the world.

This session was developed in partnership with South African Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, and it will be livestreamed. Speakers are Nzinga Qunta, SABC; Ambrosie B. Orjiako, Chairman, Seplat Energy Plc of Nigeria; Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, Chief Executive Officer, South Africa, Naspers Limited; and Patrick Achi, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire.

The opening session today began with the World Economic Forum announcing the launch of the Digital Foreign Direct Initiative. WEF President Børge Brende explained that there will be no real economic recovery without a trade recovery and an investment recovery.

The initiative, will “offer unique insights on how to create a digital ecosystem that brings prosperity to people to help government to better serve their citizens and also encourage businesses to grow,” according to Deemah Al Yahya, Secretary-General, Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), who explained further that, “By working together, we can ensure that every person, every country and every company can stand to benefit from the tremendous opportunities the digital economy brings”.

In his own contribution, Peter Herweck, the Chief Executive Officer, AVEVA Group Plc, said that public-private partnerships “will play a key role in accelerating the digital transformation and enabling prosperity for societies around the globe.”

And Isa Ali Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria, summarized that. “The digital economy cannot be developed in silos.”

Ukraine President addressing WEF

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine gave a Special Address to today’s session and he expressed his gratitude for the global community’s support for Ukraine following the Russian invasion but called for more support to help his country. He called on global leaders to wake each morning and ask what they can do for Ukraine today.

Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland and current Director, School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, spoke on one of the key themes at Davos 2022 – “Is globalization coming to an end?”

“It’s too simplistic to say we’re moving towards some kind of a new Cold War, with a liberal world order and an authoritarian world order,” he told the session on Russia: What Next?” He further explained that, “Alliances are going to be a lot more flexible than what we are used to. I also don’t think that we’re going to go towards an area where there is a lot of talk… of deglobalization. I think we’ll have more regionalization of globalization but it’s not going to go away.”

Stubb added he had heard a minister from an Asian nation say, “‘All of you Westerners are talking about deglobalization, but if you look at it in our part of the world, it’s never been stronger, it’s just not an American or European globalization.’ These are the sorts of things we feel uncomfortable about but we need to have a conversation about them.”

Loic Tassel, President, Europe, Procter & Gamble International Operations, also said he expects to see a trend of regionalization of supply chains. “90 plus percent of what we’re going to be selling in Europe will be produced in Europe. That’s a profound change, which I think is going to be a lasting one,” he explained in the Future of Globalization’ session.

On the global food crisis, David Beasley, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme, told the ‘Averting a Global Food Crisis’ session in the afternoon that the world faces the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two, repeating his past warning of a global food crisis from over a year, explaining that “just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, ‘the breadbasket of the world [Ukraine] now has the longest bread lines in the world.’ We’re taking food from the hungry to give it to the starving,” he said, warning that a ‘perfect storm’ means food availability problems could affect everyone.

Apart from today which featured discussions on The Future of Globalization, The Return of the West, Global Economic Outlook, and Strategic Outlook: The Future of Global Operations, tomorrow will focus on Absorbing the Commodity Shock, Preparing for Africa’s Growing Global Role, and Defining the US in a Changing World. Wednesday will feature topics on What Next for Global Growth?, Is Globalization Dead?, Balancing Globalization and Resilience in a Time of Crises, and Trade: Now What? On Thursday, the final day, the focus will be on The Future of Global Cooperation and The Biggest Trade Deal in the World.




One Comment on “Davos 2022 – The World Economic Forum and Africa: What Benefits?”

  1. I hope that African leaders to learn more from the summit and stop over dependent on donors from foreign countries. There are a lot of economic potential in African but greed and corruption pauperize the nation.

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