WEF Africa 2019 – Did it all go horribly wrong?

Xenophobic attacks and protests against gender-based violence took the shine off President Ramaphosa’s chance to showcase South Africa at the World Economic Forum on Africa.

FILE: Anti-gender violence protesters at the CTICC in Cape Town where the World Economic Forum on Africa event is being held on 4 September 2019. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

The lead-up to the 2019 World Economic Forum in Cape Town was marred by wave upon wave of xenophobic attacks on foreign African nationals and mass protests against the horrific violence against women.

The gathering was supposed to give President Cyril Ramaphosa a chance to prove that South Africa is the continent’s best investment destination.

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviewed Kenny Fihla (chief executive, corporate and investment Banking at Standard Bank), Dr Martyn Davies (MD of emerging markets & Africa at Deloitte), Peter Attard Montalto (head of capital markets research at Intellidex) and Sandile Hlophe (partner and Africa region government and public sector leader at EY) for their perspectives on the event.

“The protestors made a very powerful case,” said Montalto. “They ultimately forced the President to come out and address them.”

Most African economies are growing at a rate much faster than South Africa’s.

Consequently, South African companies have an opportunity to expand into those markets.

Standard Bank operates in 20 African countries, so it is particularly sensitive to any developments that suggest other Africans are not welcome in South Africa, said Fihla.

Acts of xenophobia are deplorable. They have no place in the modern world. Xenophobia is parochial and counterproductive. It ought to be condemned.

Kenny Fihla, chief executive, corporate and investment banking at Standard Bank.

South Africa needs plans we can implement immediately, said Hlophe.

One of these is the streamlining of visa applications. “That’s something we can fix tomorrow,” he said.

The political economy of South Africa expected a V-shaped recovery after the end of the Zuma era, said Davies.

“We’ve moved from structural decline to drift,” he said. “We’re tired of drift. We need action. We need leadership. We need a strong state. If we get our act together, we can turn on a dime.”

Click here to read more from the Inclusive Growth archive.

Click here to read more from the Driving Africa’s Development archive.

Click here to read more from the Digitisation for Good archive.

Click here to return to the 54 and 1 portal - brought to you by Standard Bank.

Listen to Bruce Whitfield's panel discussion with Kenny Fihla, Dr Martyn Davies, Peter Attard Montalto and Sandile Hlophe.