The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2013 – South Africa’s Mission

first_imgThe World Economic Forum (WEF) 2013 brought together international political leaders, business leaders and journalists from across the globe to discuss and shape global, regional and industrial agendas with regards to economics, health and the environment under the theme “Resilient Dynamism.”The central strategic focus of South Africa’s engagement in this year’s WEF was to highlight some of the advances the country has made in terms of integrated national planning and policy development. Two key strategic policy initiatives, being the National Development Plan and the National Infrastructure Plan were chosen to shine a light on South Africa’s long-term policy thinking.In terms of the NDP, South Africa’s message at Davos was that the NDP intends to address societal imbalances and to develop necessary skills and capacity in the economy to create a labour absorbing industry. The National Development Plan (NDP) and its Vision 2030 was further used at WEF Davos to showcase the South African ability to name and call out the challenges facing our society. By communicating on the National Infrastructure Plan at WEF Davos, South Africa clearly showed that the government has chosen a path of counter-cyclical spending, driven by catalytic infrastructure investment. In this way the government is striking a balance between protecting the country’s sovereign integrity, while simultaneously leveraging the multiplier impact of fixed capital formation.Infrastructure development and investments are strategic catalytic investments that will support long-term skills development, and related business development in areas where the Strategic Integrated Projects identified in the NIP will be implemented. The latter message regarding the NIP and its associated SIPS had a double impact due to the SA country message dovetailing well with the statements made by President Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria), and President Paul Kagame (Rwanda). These leaders also championed the cause of African regional integration and related infrastructure development initiatives. In this way South Africa succeeded in its intended objective at Davos, being to highlight the country’s existing strengths and to draw attention to the tremendous opportunity for investment that will open as the NIP and NDP programmes become an integral part of government operations in coming years.As Brand SA we believe the above country messages were not only put across on key platforms, but that by the end of the Davos meeting, there was consensus that the African continent is not only rising in global economic importance, but that the continent presents the world economy with important opportunities for shared growth and co-development (especially with our BRICS partners). The latter plans were effectively communicated, using several platforms, such as CNBC, and president Zuma’s participation in opinion leader platforms on the official WEF Davos programme.In this way South Africa responded to the theme of this year’s conference which was ‘Resilient Dynamism’ – essentially this theme interrogated on-going volatility in global markets and economic uncertainty in the world’s advanced economies. South Africa managed to communicate clearly that the country’s banking and financial sector remains stable and that in many instances the sector is a global leader.In terms of South Africa’s internal labour issues, strikes, and credit ratings downgrades, the president went to great lengths to explain that South Africa is a developing nation, and that we acknowledge the challenges we face. A further very important outcome from WEF Davos was president Zuma’s decision, taken during the presidential briefing to Team SA in Davos, to host a meeting between government and business to address trust issues, and to find common ground to grow the economy, address poverty, and thus to deal with the social challenges our country faces. This meeting took place, as promised, on Sunday 3 February. As Brand SA we applaud this initiative, and we should celebrate the fact that the president and the government of South Africa remains open to engagement with business to find common ground.While the country admits there are labour, and related socio-economic challenges, government cannot address these in isolation. As a nation constructed on the foundation of engagement, deliberation, and negotiation, we at Brand SA believe that these initiatives will in the long term deliver the necessary consensus for us as a nation to rise to the occasion, and deal with the challenges confronting us.The latter is of course also important in terms of the delivery of the NDP, to get business, government and civil-society to a point of closer collaboration, based on mutual understanding, to take the country forward in a collective manner. This can only build the economy and develop a socially cohesive nation.last_img

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