Africa’s economic outlook is positive. According to the International Monetary Fund, almost half of the 40 fastest-growing emerging and developing countries are in Africa. Since 2016, almost half of these countries have experienced a change in political leadership, in most cases through democratically held elections. As a tribute to growing regional cooperation, in March 2018 the African Union launched the African Continental Free Trade Area, which envisions a single market expected to generate a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion and benefit over 1 billion people.
While significant progress has been made on Africa’s political and economic transformation, the continent continues to face significant challenges. Geopolitically, new economic alliances are altering traditional relationships and spheres of influence. Pockets of conflict persist, and fragility is increasingly exacerbated by climate-related environmental vulnerability. With an estimated investment gap of over $1 trillion a year to finance the Sustainable Development Goals, the continent is also challenged to create 18 million jobs per year until 2035 to absorb youthful labour market entrants. Thus, the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution calls for a more concerted regional dialogue and entrepreneurial and agile leadership to create pathways for shared prosperity and drive a sustainable future.
The programme in Cape Town, South Africa, aims to tackle these issues by focusing on how to scale up the transformation of regional architecture related to institutions, infrastructure, integration, industrialization and innovation. Under the theme, Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa will convene more than 1,000 regional and global leaders from politics, business, civil society and academia to shape regional and industry agendas in the year ahead.