As we draw closer to the 2016 World Economic Forum, on Wednesday at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village, we take a look at some of the topics that fall under the theme connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation.
Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa and member of the executive committee at the World Economic Forum explained to CNBC Africa what opportunities arise from this conference and how it best benefits the host country.
“The meeting is really a gathering of leaders across the continent, the regional meeting that takes place once a year – so it is a touch-point to be able to look back at the past year in terms of successes and failures and then to look forward in terms of where the opportunities lay or potential challenges,” said Kanza.
She adds: “It’s also a gathering of global leaders who have an interest in Africa, doing similar things but also looking to understand what is happening in the continent – also to foster collaborations around solutions to challenges that are confronting the continent.”
Kanza says this theme allows countries to take into account where they are currently and then say what this means in terms of priorities and moving forward, reforms and business models, whether they are still viable or not.
Digitisation offers the continent new opportunities to leapfrog she said but she also worries that the most important resource – its people – aren’t participating enough.
“Current internet penetration stands at only 20 per cent, in order for Africa to be able to actively engage in this new reality, we need to be 100 per cent,” Kanza said.
And that is one of the challenges she says will arise, how to make sure everyone can take advantage of connection, for instance staying on track in infrastructure development, industrialisation and skills development.
The WEF this year is also experiencing a few firsts, the highest number of women participating than before, highest number of business leaders and the highest participation by Chinese delegation.