WEF Africa 2016: How do we deliver shared prosperity across the continent?


Important questions will be discussed in Kigali, Rwanda this week, as the World Economic Forum on Africa gathers under the theme “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”. We take a look at the meeting’s main sub-themes.

Kigali articleWEF Africa is taking place in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali. (Image: Government of Rwanda, Twitter)

There is widespread agreement that Africa needs to craft new approaches to trigger structural transformation. According to the Africa Competitiveness Report 2015, services are playing an increasingly important role in African economies, yet the share and value of services in regional and global trade are very low.

In today’s increasingly connected world, with internet penetration at 26%, an integrated digital transformation strategy for Africa is imperative.

For these and other reasons, the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa will address the following main sub-themes.

Governance and institutions

Many countries in Africa have fully liberalised their ICT markets and are reaping the benefits in increased investments and use.
How will ICT drive Africa’s digital transformation?

Informal employment forms the largest proportion of employment opportunities, about 77% in 2012, despite inadequate working conditions and social protection regimes.
How is e-government transforming service delivery in the informal sector?

Regional trade agreements are becoming more complex, particularly in light of negotiations of new mega-regional trade agreements that could lead to a $2.7-billion loss of Africa’s exports.
What is the future of regional trade agreements in the world trading system?

More than 500-million smallholder farmers in Africa are still dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
How can climate-smart food systems transform their lives?

In 2015 only 11 African countries offer liberal visa access to all African citizens.
What visa innovations can facilitate the movement of people within the continent?

Foreign direct investment flows into Africa have remained stable at $54-billion, while they fell 16% globally.
How can Africa’s leaders reduce the risk perception and attract higher investment?

Finance and growth

About 20% of African households have access to formal or semi-formal finance.
How is technology transforming Africa’s financial services industry?

Africa is home to nine of the world’s 15 fastest growing economies and is an increasingly attractive environment for global business investments.
How will the continent continue to grow in the face of a slowing global economy?

By 2040, renewables could provide more than 40% of all power-generation capacity in the region.
How can smart grid solutions enhance investments in renewable energy?

External sources of financing have increased from $5-billion in 2003 to $30-billion a year in 2012, leaving a financing gap of $50-billion to fill.
How can innovative partnerships bridge mega infrastructure financing gaps?

Smart mining, the integration of ICT solutions in the entire supply chain of the mining industry, is projected to reach $13-billion by 2020, up from $5.12-billion in 2013.
What technologies are transforming the mining industry in Africa?

Factory activity accounted for 10% of Africa’s GDP over the past decade. Manufacturing is widely considered to be the ideal industry to drive Africa’s development due to the labour-intensive, export-focused nature of the business.
How is distributed manufacturing transforming production and competitiveness?

Human development and entrepreneurship

Education policy can accelerate literacy and digital skills training in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
What digital platforms are accelerating skills development?

Africa has one of the highest mobile phone penetrations in the world.
How are mobile health technologies transforming healthcare?

According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, global creative services are growing significantly, yet Africa contributes only about 1%.
How is the wireless revolution transforming Africa’s creative industries?

The potential annual economic losses due to gender gaps in labour participation are estimated at $255-billion in sub-Saharan Africa.
What innovations are bridging the science gender gap?

Young consumers are driving offline sales through online traffic. This potential will increase as Africa’s middle-class consumers grow from about 355-million people to 1.1-billion over the next three decades.
How is digital disruption changing the retail landscape in Africa?

About 40% of Africans live in urban settlements, leading to increased traffic congestion and dwindling access to water and sanitation.
How can smart cities improve water and transport management?

South Africa will be sending a delegation to Kigali for the conference. Follow them on Twitter using #SAinKigali.