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Davos is the center of the world, at least for this week

The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2019 takes place in the Swiss hamlet of Davos, up in the mountains where snow and slippery ice are the order of the day. The conference has been taking place since 1973.

I have been trying to find a suitable comparison for this place and my best for those in Johannesburg is that it is a bit like hosting a global conference in Hartbeespoort. For Capetonians this would be Ceres - although in both instances Davos is a bit further (180km from Zurich).

There are over 3 000 delegates here, from Presidents to young people who are deemed Global Shapers and Young Global Leaders. This year’s theme is ‘Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. The sub-heading: For the next wave of globalization, leaders need to learn from past mistakes, build societies that are more inclusive and better protect vulnerable communities.

Absa has three delegates, our Chairman Ms Wendy Lucas-Bull, Chief Executive Officer, Maria Ramos and Deputy Chief Executive, Peter Matlare. In addition to partaking in the core WEF program, Maria will also co-chair her first meeting of the UN Digital Financing Task Force meeting.

We are here at WEF not only because we have committed to building a digitally led organization and providing digital solutions to our clients and customers. We are here because we fully understand the importance of 4IR to Africa and the communities we serve – and that we have to play a key role in ensuring that our communities are not left behind.

Africa has a youthful population, the youngest on average in the world. In order to realize its potential and building the capacity to compete with the best in the world means that large companies like Absa have to work with governments and other stakeholders to rapidly improve schooling and skills training content. We have to invest in new, local innovations that respond to Africa’s specific challenges and the developing world in general.

We are therefore here to listen and to, whenever we get the opportunity, speak up on behalf of our continent and our home country, South Africa.
During the week we will have the honour of hosting President Ramaphosa and Team SA’s breakfast with investors, and then to launch the Absa Africa Financial Markets Index 2018. The aim of the index, the second since 2017, is to establish a benchmark for the investment community to gauge African countries’ performance and highlight how they can learn from others. It is put together with the help of our partners at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), an independent think tank for central banking, economic policy and public investment.

During this week we will provide you with insights and updates from the WEF’s discussions as well as the events mentioned above.

Oh, we have also brought some of our emerging clients here whose stories we tell HERE.