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Team South Africa delivers upbeat message at Davos

President Jacob Zuma meets WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab in Davos, Switzerland, 21 January 2016President Jacob Zuma meets WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab in Davos, Switzerland, 21 January 2016 (Photo: www.gov.za)Team South Africa has gone to the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland with the upbeat message that it is a resilient country fully capable of overcoming the challenges it faces, and the Presidency reports that the delegation has been received positively.

President Jacob Zuma is leading a strong contingent, including Cabinet ministers and private sector heavyweights, to the annual showpiece gathering, which runs from 20 to 23 January.

Geoffrey Qhena, Chief Executive of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and Busi Mabuza, the Corporation's chair, are supporting the President on the finance and investment arm of the team.

South Africa is using the meeting to attract foreign investment. According to the Presidency, team members have been presenting the country's advanced infrastructure and sound fiscal policies as proof of its resilience, while discussing the measures that are being taken to address its challenges.

The country's participation at WEF 2016 comes at a critical time for an economy that is facing the impact of a severe drought on food prices.

South Africa 'open for business'

"The message that South Africa is open for business is being communicated by the President, ministers and business leaders in all sessions at Davos," the Presidency said on Thursday, 21 January.

Outlining the country's Davos strategy earlier this week, the Presidency said the President and his team would unpack the nine-point plan he first announced in his State of the Nation address in February 2015, aimed at igniting growth and creating jobs. The nine points are:

  • Resolving the energy challenge;
  • Revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain;
  • Advancing beneficiation or adding value to the country's mineral wealth;
  • More effective implementation of a higher-impact Industrial Policy Action Plan;
  • Encouraging private sector investment;
  • Moderating workplace conflict;
  • Unlocking the potential of SMMEs, co-operatives, township and rural enterprises;
  • Boosting the role of state-owned companies, along with roll-outs of ICT infrastructure and broadband, as well as water, sanitation and transport infrastructure; and
  • Harnessing Operation Phakisa to grow the country's oceans economy.

IDC key to implementation of nine-point plan

President Jacob Zuma briefs the South African delegation in Davos, Switzerland, 21 January 2016. (Photo: www.gov.za)President Jacob Zuma briefs the South African delegation in Davos, Switzerland, 21 January 2016. (Photo: www.gov.za)The IDC is key to the implementation of this plan - a fact underscored by the presence of Mr Qhena and Ms Mabuza on Team South Africa. The Corporation is something of a barometer for the South African real economy. Its portfolio cuts across critical traditional sectors such as mining, steel, chemicals and textiles, and new sectors such as green energy and film.

The IDC's portfolio has a particularly strong exposure to the tradable goods sector - in other words, to those parts of the economy where growth is a function of exports, or where a significant part of the market is in sectors exposed to import competition.

In addition, the Corporation is a thought leader, generating opinions and actions that are increasingly being seen as a shaper of views across the spectrum in the country.

The next step in South Africa's economic transformation has been taken with the setting up of a forum to oversee funding applications from black industrialists, a step in which the IDC is intricately involved.

With its policy of supporting both economic transformation and industrialisation, the IDC will play an important role on this forum. Other members include the Export Credit Insurance Corporation, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Land Bank, National Empowerment Fund, Public Investment Corporation and Small Enterprise Finance Agency.

The forum will co-ordinate applications from aspiring and emerging black industrialists, particularly those in the manufacturing sector. The IDC will provide some R23-billion towards black industrialists.

Displaying its confidence in the country and in sub-Saharan Africa, in October 2015 the Corporation announced its intention to buy a stake in Alphamin Resources Corporation, its first investment in the Democratic Republic of Congo's mining industry since a dispute over a cancelled project in 2010.

'Mastering the fourth industrial revolution'

WEF 2016 has attracted more than 2 500 participants from more than 100 countries and regions to discuss ways of attaining inclusive, sustainable growth in a global environment marked by continued low inflation, subdued oil and commodity prices, widespread currency weakness, and eroding global solidarity.

The meeting's overarching theme, "Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution", refers to the ongoing transformation of society and economy driven by advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology and other areas of science.

Innovations at the intersections of these disciplines promises to change life in new and unforeseen ways, and will affect every industry and society, according to the WEF.

"The purpose of our meeting this year is to build a shared understanding of this change, which is essential if we are to shape our collective future in a way that reflects ultimately that the human being should be at the centre," WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said at the start of the gathering.


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