The President described the Forum as a useful tool for the stimulation of discussions between global actors for the development of Africa. He believes that the African people “yearn for prosperity” and as such, leaders ought not to fail them. President Zuma realises the significance of working with the rest of the world to achieve the desired economic and social development, particularly “radical economic transformation which has been an important area of emphasis for South Africa.”
In his speech the President articulated the importance of the theme of the conference which was “inclusive growth”. He advised that the event provided a platform and an opportunity to “discuss vigorously, the various issues of economic growth and development, mindful of the fact that opportunities from that growth must not be enjoyed only by a few.” The President submitted that since Africa had experienced the drop in commodity prices in the past two years, such a platform was “most relevant to the challenges facing the world.”
President Zuma said that young people have played a significant role in bringing to attention the most critical issues facing society, particularly South Africa. According to the President the youth has “been very clear in calling for leaders to address issues of exclusion, inequality, poverty and unemployment.” He motioned issues such as weak economic growth, the management of migration, global security and terrorism as other issues facing the society on a global scale. President Zuma praised the youth saying the continent has a bright future because it is a youthful continent and as such it should always invest in young people.
The President also spoke to the short comings of the African leadership. He admitted that African leaders have not adequately addressed how the gap between the rich and the poor is going be closed in order to achieve “meaningful inclusive growth.” He reiterated that South Africa supports the G20 resolution adopted in 2016 of ensuring that “a people-centered sustainable development must be achieved which ensures that no one is left behind and that the dignity of every person on the planet is protected.” The President mentioned that “Radical economic transformation” is already underway in Africa by means of the promotion of regional integration and intra-Africa trade, infrastructure development being prioritised in order to simplify the movement of goods, people and services across Africa and the prioritising of industrialisation to promote job creation following the decision of the SADC region. According to the President, Africa’s success in the implementation of these programmes depends on the smooth mobalisation of “appropriate financing.”
The President attributed “Radical economic transformation” to the ability of Africa to diversify its economies independently from commodities in order for them to become “less vulnerable to commodity shocks.” He also mentioned that Africa needs to intensify its investment in both economic and social infrastructure as it will improve the quality of life. President Zuma suggested that “In order to achieve these goals and many others, we need to strengthen developmental partnerships between government, business, labour and all relevant stakeholders.”
The president addressed about one thousand business leaders and ten heads of states from Africa at the opening of the World Economic Forum on Africa which took place from the 3rd -5th of May 2017 in Durban. One hundred countries were represented during the conference. The event aimed to debate and attempt to find innovate economic solutions to the challenges the African continent faces in the pursuit for “inclusive growth” since the research done by the World Economic Forum indicated that a shift from the focus on GDP has contributed very little to factors such as job creation, as such an alternative strategy for economic growth has to be sought urgently.