The WEF said in a statement yesterday that it would also discuss government policies and responsible business practices to provide a foundation for a more inclusive society.
It said tackling corruption, universal healthcare provision and the protection of workers in the gig economy had a role to play in building more equitable societies.
This year’s WEF on Africa will convene 1100 leaders from 100 countries, representing business, government, academia, civil society, media and the arts under the theme “Shaping inclusive growth and shared futures in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)”.
Elsie Kanza, the head of Africa at the forum, said top leaders would come together to create the conditions for socio-economic investment to take place.
“Africa, like all regions of the world, faces great challenges.
“For the region to prosper in an increasingly globalised world, it needs transparent governance, competitive economies and peaceful societies.”
Heads of state or governments participating in the meeting include President Cyril Ramaphosa; Mok- gweetsi Masisi, President of Bo- tswana; Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros; Ma- ndulo Ambrose Dlamini, Prime Minister of eSwatini; Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia; Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi; Hage Geingob, President of Namibia; Yemi Osi- nbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria; Yo- weri Museveni, President of Uganda; Danny Faure, President of Seychelles; and Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe.
Swedish Minister of Foreign Trade Ann Linde welcomed the WEF’s initiative to focus on Africa.
“It’s a dynamic region for development and in good time for the newly signed free trade agreement,” she said.
“There is a huge potential for e-commerce and digitalisation, something that can result in more jobs, sustainable growth and development.”
Linde will participate at round table discussions on e-commerce, feminist trade policy and the shift to a more digital economy.
Pieter Bensch, the executive vice-president at Sage Africa and Middle East, said while much of the discussion would inevitably focus on the dangers of losing employment to automation, the forum would not lose sight of the opportunities the 4IR would create for entrepreneurs and digital workers in Africa.
He said innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the cloud and 3D printing would enable small and larger businesses alike to streamline processes and get better visibility into their performance.
“The 4IR will catalyse greater automation, higher productivity and lower costs across industries, driven by the advent of the Internet of Things, cloud computing, advanced robotics, intelligent software, AI, distributed ledgers, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality, and a range of other technologies.
“I have a strong belief in this continent and what it can offer to the rest of the world as it seizes on this opportunity,” said Bensch.