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Does Africa matter at the WEF?

In addition to having three dedicated days a year at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa, to be held in Abuja in May this year, Africa has six dedicated public sessions in this year's tight programme at the global event.

This included a live televised debate where the panel included two presidents, from Nigeria and Ghana, and the richest man in sub-Saharan Africa, namely Aliko Dangote of Nigeria.

Africa matters because it makes up roughly 4% of the world's economic activity (measured by GDP), with 15% of the global population and 20% of the world's land mass.

Despite real GDP growth of between 5.5% and 6.5% being forecast for Africa for the next five years, the debate centred around the challenges faced by the continent.

This focus can be overdone as the region is bristling with opportunities - but imagine if even some of the obstacles of doing business could be eased or removed

(By the way, the WEF publishes the Africa Competitiveness Report biannually which aims, among others, to measure progress and stimulate discussion about what all stakeholders can do together to better connect Africa's markets).

I liked the following five points which emerged from the debate:

Ghana has made oil companies provide transparency around their dealings with government, and Nigeria, Angola and Uganda could follow suit.

Financial inclusion is a top priority for non-governmental organisations, business people and governments alike.

The focus to 2050 is financial/economic inclusion by creating the right business platforms, addressing infrastructure and education backlogs and dealing with conflicts.

This should create the "jobs, jobs, jobs" Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama aims for.

A focus on improving inter-African trade and travel is long overdue.

Paul Clark is portfolio manager and African equities specialist_ at Ashburton Investments._

Click here for a special feature on this year's World Economic Forum in Davos.