The three-day World Economic Forum on Africa opened on Wednesday with more than ten African heads of state and governments converging in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam to discuss Africa’s economic future.
Tanzanian President Mr. Jakaya Kikwete said: “Africa is a continent with a vast potential. It keeps developing even when the rest of the world is economically unstable.”
“The forum is a good chance to discuss what we should do now to live better in the future,” Mr. Kikwete said.
With its motto, “Revising strategies for Africa’s development,” the 20th World Economic Forum aims to help Africa to overcome the global finance crisis.
Dozens of international journalists and high-profile economic writers are covering this forum in which the organizers said would create a new image of Africa, known in Europe and America as the continent doomed with wars and diseases.
A brainstorming session with the theme, “Turning Vision into Reality,” took place soon after the opening of the session by examining the current, changing global landscape and identifying opportunities that can unlock Africa’s growth potential and the barriers to social and economic progress in the coming year.
South African President Jacob Zuma is attending the forum in which he will discuss the future of South Africa’s giant economy and Africa’s position during the FIFA World Cup 2010 scheduled to kick-off in Cape Town early next month.
President Zuma will address a session Wednesday evening under the theme, “Building South Africa – the 2010 World Cup and beyond.” The session included roundtable discussions with South African ministers and business leaders.
In the course of the forum process, Zuma will participate in a panel discussion on “The Future of Africa’s Democracies.” He will also address the closing plenary session on “The Redesign of Africa’s Role in a New Global Economy.”
Zuma met with the World Economic Forum executive chairman and founder Professor Klaus Schwab.
Other African leaders who are on ground for the forum were Presidents Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Tanzanian delegates hope that the forum will help in promoting and marketing the country’s tourism sector and show the guests how Tanzania is overwhelmingly endowed with abundant tourist attractions.
Tourism is Tanzanian’s first foreign exchange earner. In the year ending in February 2010, the sector brought in about US$1.3 billion.
“Before the global economic downturn, [the] tourism sector was growing at the rate of 12 percent, but it has since been adversely affected, with the number of visitors sliding down drastically,” said Mr. Mustafa Akunaay, the executive secretary of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO).
At the time Tanzania and the world is recovering from the global economic downturn, Mr. Akunaay said it was his association’s expectations that the government of Tanzania would use the forum to harvest from other participants on how best it can address transportation issues and think to revisit a taxation policy that is critical to tourism.
It is anticipated that the forum will put Tanzania on the world map by the sheer fact that visitors are coming from every corner of the world, with over 85 countries attending this vital meeting.