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World Economic Forum inspires optimism

World Economic Forum inspires optimism

8 October 2019

It’s Africa’s time. This was the resounding message from African leaders who gathered in Cape Town for the 2019 World Economic Forum on Africa.

While the theme of the forum was “Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, there was one issue that dominated: how to build a more prosperous and inclusive Africa for all.

The event, held at the CTICC from 4 to 6 September, drew more than 1 000 regional and global leaders from politics, business, civil society and academia.

President Cyril Ramaphosa gave a glowing assessment of the continent according to World Economic Forum journalist Robin Pomeroy, saying: “The future is great, it looks very bright for the African continent, and if there was ever a time when Africa could definitely be said to be on the rise, this is the time. This is Africa's century, and we want to utilise it to good effect.”

One of the big outcomes of the meeting, which also signalled a commitment to building a better Africa, is the ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) following years of talks. Backed by the African Union, the goal of the AfCFTA – which will be the world’s largest free trade area by number of countries once it’s fully up and running – is to establish a single market for goods and services across 54 countries, allow the free movement of business travellers and investments, and create a continental customs union to streamline trade and attract long-term investment.

The agreement was a “game-changer”, according to Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC). “We now have leaders of 54 countries putting their necks on the line for this agreement. It’s a game-changer. There’s much more political energy today than there has ever been on integration.”

Collaboration on the AfCFTA is set to start on 1 July 2020 and there is optimism it will help boost economic growth in Africa and create jobs.

CAPE TOWN ON THE MAP

Tasso Evangelinos, CEO of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), which advocates for a vibrant CBD that can attract local, national and global investment, lauded the event for showcasing the Central City and boosting its economy.

“This was a prestigious event and we were certainly proud that it was hosted with much success in our downtown. As the CCID, we would also like to congratulate Julie-May Ellingson, the CEO of the CTICC and all Central City stakeholders for pulling out all the stops to host all the regional and global leaders who attended.”

Images: World Economic Forum

Tags: World Economic Forum on Africa Meeting CTICC Africa Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA