Durban forum expected to focus on intra-trade and development

Sunday April 30 2017

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga shares a

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga shares a light moment with South Africa President Jacob Zuma after a session on Climate Change and the upcoming COP 17 in Durban at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. PHOTO | FILE 

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Wary of the perils of depending on reluctant donors for its survival, Africa is on a quiet quest for self-reliance and intra-regional cooperation.

These are among the themes that will feature at the three-day World Economic Forum that opens in Durban, South Africa, on Wednesday.

The event is aimed at finding collaborative solutions that will improve Africa’s socio-economic situation by providing a platform for governments, businesses and civil society to engage in dialogue, network and form crucial partnerships.

Given the bad economic situation of the continent, and as Labour Day is marked on Monday, it can hardly sweep the problem of joblessness and poverty under the carpet.

Instead, even after the receding ravages of drought, there is a likelihood that millions will continue to wallow in debilitating want.


The irony of the situation is that Africa is touted as a continent of plenty, making it the envy of others. Unfortunately, the resources are not properly exploited and utilised.

The inequitable distribution of national resources aside, there is still hope that the continent will become a truly enviable economic hub if it recognises the infinite benefits of intra-regional and trade.

Already, countries like Morocco and Rwanda are setting the pace with regard to encouraging cooperation.

Morocco has rapidly been making its presence felt just weeks after its readmission to the African Union during the continental body’s 28th summit in Addis Ababa last month.

In fact, King Mohammed VI has in recent months made whirlwind tours of countries in search of opportunities for economic cooperation through improved ties.

So far, the monarch has visited Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Zambia and Ethiopia and signed numerous MoUs relating to economic ties.


Other countries like Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya and Seychelles have also taken the initiative to consolidate ties between them with a view to opening vistas for beneficial economic cooperation.

Uganda, for instance, has made moves to try and tap into Equatorial Guinea’s experience in oil production.

Following the discovery of oilfields in Uganda in recent years, the country is keen to build its capacity before production begins.

That is why President Yoweri Museveni hosted his Equatorial Guinea counterpart Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo last week.

The presidents of Kenya and Seychelles; Uhuru Kenyatta and Danny Faure held talks at State House, Nairobi recently


According to a communique issued after the Seychelles leader’s visit, the two countries will strengthen cooperation in tourism, trade and maritime security, the fight against narcotics, among other issues.

The initiatives exemplify the kind of intra-continental cooperation that will be at the heart of the Durban forum.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame recently decried the fact that 98 per cent of AU’s programmes are funded by donors.

“It seems we are waiting for somebody to hand things over to us,” he said. “How can we say these people need to keep doing things for us when we should be doing them for ourselves?” he asked.

That is what the question forum is expected to address.