4 May 2011
As the 21st World Economic Forum on Africa kicks off in Cape Town, South Africa’s message to the world is moving beyond an emphasis on the country’s rich cultural diversity, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
“We are now highlighting our achievements in the fields of science, technological innovation, financial services and our recognition as a systemically important member of the international community,” Gordhan said on Wednesday ahead of the opening of the meeting.
“In our hosting of WEF Africa, we will confidently say that South Africa is indeed responding to the new reality.”
The three-day meeting, starting on Wednesday, will discuss how sub-Saharan Africa can sustain its growth path and become one of the pillars of global growth and demand.
To be held under the theme, “Shaping Africa’s Role in the New Reality”, the meeting will take place against the backdrop of the increasing global recognition of Africa’s growth potential.
Gordhan, South Africa’s lead minister for the WEF on Africa, said the country was ideally placed in the shifting poles of power and economic growth, not only as an emerging market, but also as a leading economy on a continent that has become an indispensible partner in the global economy and is home to approximately 15% of the world’s population.
“We are strong promoters of inclusive growth, job creation, and the diversification of the economy,” the minister said.
He added that South Africa was actively participating and contributing to positions formulated in global policy making.
“We are also assuming an increasingly important position in the international arena. We are one of the non-permanent members on the United Nations Security Council, the only African country to be a member of the G20, and now most recently, we have taken a seat at the table of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa forum (BRICS), which, with its population of over 3-billion people, serves as a major platform for global dialogue and cooperation.”
Among issues to be discussed at the WEF Africa are how African economies can mitigate their exposure to the volatility in commodity prices, and how the continent can strengthen its voice in multilateral forums such as the G20 and the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17). The COP 17 conference will take place in Durban in December.