Our global business calendar is dotted with certain blue-ribbon events that act as global forums for debate. Sometimes they are seen as just a talk shop but quite often a lot of good comes out of these meetings. Davos, Copenhagen, EU summit, G8 summit, G-20, Pacific rim summit, Pan-American summit, and many more.
What the current global crisis has shown us was that the financial elite were detached from economic realities on the ground. In light of this, going to sequester all the best global minds in a Swiss Ski resort will not help them then connect with Nyabugogo market.
The main problem with these summits is the “Bubble effect” when people are wrapped in a hyper-real world of global politics.
They discuss global warming in the ice-cold winters of Copenhagen, we should put them in a tent in the Sahara with no air conditioning.
The aim of the Davos World Economic Forum is “make the world a better place” but the question is for whom? We Africans need a summit of our own, if only just to show them the reality of Africa. The reality is not just the poverty but the abundant potential here.
The issue is security and accommodation for a summit the size of Davos with 40 heads of state, 260 ministers, 1000 CEO’s as well as an army of press, and various stakeholders.
It is imperative that Africa hosts a world summit for Africa, we cannot discuss poverty alleviation in the splendour of the 1st world.
If that summit should ever happen, we should not hide our poverty, a global leader should sit next to a poor African with few prospects in life.
I often wonder what conversation President Obama would have with a distant relation from Nyanza in Kenya. This digital age is connecting people globally but can also disconnect people locally.
The problem is that the human element to this is often lost, amid the targets, graphs and charts one can forget that actual people are represented in those figures.
Africans have paid a higher price for this crisis than the ones who created it. Investors pulled out of the market when Africa had much lower risk than the Western world.
Africa is struggling to get itself on the global financial map, we are 18% of global population but have only 3% of global trade, less than Britain with 5% of global trade.
China has made western governments sit up and take notice of Africa, but it is still the search for commodities that drives investment in Africa.
It is in all our interests if we can have an Africa summit, it will not kick off straight away because Davos was started in 1971 and gained prominence 20 years later.
What is important is the host sets the agenda, we Africans need to set our own agenda and priorities for development. Let us invite global leaders on a summit on how to best develop Africa.