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South Africa misses chance to report on progress - WEF official

Sep 04 2019 21:58
Mike Cohen and Amogelang Mbatha, Bloomberg

Among the sentiments being expressed at the World Economic Forum taking place in Cape Town, are conference fatigue.

Business and political leaders began meeting at the African edition of the World Economic Forum on Wednesday. 

The conference is taking place against the backdrop of a wave of xenophobic attacks. These have undermined South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's assurances the continent's most-industrialized economy is open for business.

Standard Chartered Bank southern Africa CEO Kweku Bedu-Addo highlighted the fact that this year's theme of inclusive economic growth echoes one discussed in 2017.

"I think there needs to be less talk and more action because two years ago we were in Durban with the same themes around inclusive growth and all the usual buzzwords," Bedu-Addo said in an interview.

"I don't see more concerted action after these engagements, which are good, but all I would like to see are the action plans, and those action plans put into specific deeds that would lift people out of the hopelessness that they find themselves in."

Missed opportunity

By not taking part in a panel discussion they were invited to, South African government officials missed an opportunity to report back on the performance of President Cyril Ramaphosa's administration since it won elections in May.

"We invited them and asked for some officials to join us, but due to scheduling we were told that unfortunately they can't join us," WEF spokesperson Oliver Cann said at a briefing.

"To be fair, we put this panel on at quite short notice. Our friends in government did not have a lot of time to respond to the invitation."

Botswana

Botswana, which in part built its economy on diamond wealth, is intent on reducing its reliance on mining and luring investment with low tax rates, an absence of exchange controls and no restrictions on foreign ownership, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said at the WEF.

The southern African nation is also developing new power plants, roads, railways, a fiber optic network, and has established eight special economic zones to encourage the development of industries such as financial services and coal processing, Masisi said.

With the ruling party having split and the country due to hold elections next month, the reforms may help boost a slumping economy.

sa economy  |  wef africa 2019
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