A high-level South African delegation, comprising the country’s leading academic and business stakeholders, actively participated in the World Economic Forum’s 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC) held in Tianjin, China from June 27-29, 2023. Colloquially referred to as “Summer Davos”, this influential meeting of over 1,500 global leaders from business, government, and civil society focused on the themes of “Entrepreneurship: The Driving Force of the Global Economy”, as well as the role of start-ups in actualising innovation. Alongside public figures such as the China’s new Premier, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and hundreds of sectoral leaders, the South African delegation achieved meaningful progress in outlining development opportunities lying ahead.
At this crucial juncture in world economic development, the AMNC was an important gathering for decision-makers to plot a future course in global economic development. South Africa played a particularly important role, as the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has put African nations in the spotlight for the $2 trillion combined market that the agreement is expected to create. As part of the South African delegation, representatives from various sectors including African Rainbow Minerals, Brand South Africa, Standard Bank Group, the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Telkom South Africa and the University of Pretoria, amongst others, made significant contributions to the sessions, workshops, and discussions throughout the three-day event. Under the uniting theme of entrepreneurship, the AMNC provided a platform for participants to navigate global challenges and accelerate progress towards common goals. The meeting encompassed six core themes, including rewiring growth, China in the global context, energy transition and materials, safeguarding nature and climate, post-pandemic consumers, and deploying innovation.
In line with the meeting’s discussions on emerging technologies, AI readiness, and China’s economy, South African stakeholders actively engaged in spotlights and dialogue related to these topics. Their participation demonstrated South Africa’s commitment and world-class capability to driving innovation, fostering entrepreneurship, and contributing to the global economy. Brand South Africa’s Country Head for China, Mr. Tshepiso Maleleexpressed his enthusiasm for the forum. He stated, “The AMNC 2023 has provided us an invaluable platform for South Africa to outline how we, as an industrial, diplomatic and innovation leader on the African continent, can develop and scale up globally relevant solutions. Our robust legal and finance infrastructure, and world-class human capital, have historically played a key part in making South Africa a competitive player.”
South Africa has long been regarded as a hub for regional commercial operations and investment. The country hosts the largest number of multinational corporations in Africa, with over 180 Fortune Global 500 companies, benefiting from favourable access to global markets, including through trade agreements and the AfCFTA. International enterprises and investors benefit from South Africa’s status as Africa’s leading financial hub, as well as comprehensive government support for entrepreneurship and innovation through various programmes and incentives. Foundational to South Africa’s prominent investment and global business status, however, is the country’s robust legal and property rights protection regime. With the promise of new growth and historic integration of economic production on the African continent, projections around key players in the future growth of the region firmly point to the time-tested role and capacity of South Africa.