The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland will convene from January 21 – 24 and top on the agenda is how to address the urgent climate and environmental challenges threatening the economy and ecology, a reality in Nigeria where regular farmer/herder clashes and the drying of the Lake Chad bring home the impact of a changing climate.
President Muhammadu Buhari missed the event last year which held weeks to the general election and lost an opportunity to understand the impact of technology on business and society and how other nations were dealing with the challenges.
A key takeaway from the Davos 2019 was that businesses must join governments in defining the shape of the new globalization and create an optimal governance architecture in areas such as data privacy, cybersecurity and digital identity, as neither side can tackle these issues alone. This lacuna is seen in Nigeria where the Central Bank’s fintech policy changes appear inconsistent.
However, leaders of some other African countries including Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President, Faiez Al Serrag Libyan Prime Minister, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Ugandan President, and Emmerson Mnangagwa – President of Zimbabwe.
While many criticise this event as a mere talking shop, countries with a plan reap huge benefits. For example, in Davos 2019, Rwanda in collaboration with WEF’s new Center for Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco created some of the best drone policy ever adopted.
Rwanda is the first country to adopt performance-based regulations for all drones allowing regulators to specify safety standards drones have to meet, thus opening the door for more operators, including those focused on global health, international development, and humanitarian response objectives.
The Rwandan government has partnered with Zipline, the Silicon Valley company that delivers essential medical products by drone to rural communities.
According to the organisers, this year’s forum will also address how to transform industries to achieve more sustainable and inclusive business models as new political, economic and societal priorities change trade and consumption patterns, how to govern the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution so they benefit business and society while minimizing their risks to them and how to adapt to the demographic, social and technological trends reshaping education, employment and entrepreneurship.
These are similar issues the current Nigerian government is seeking to get a handle on. For example, Vietnam used to buy the bulk of Nigeria’s cashew but has since last year been rejecting the commodity with serious impact on Nigeria’s non-oil export.
The fourth industrial revolution mainly represents a confluence of different technologies – artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented, and virtual reality with serious consequences for economic development. In government circles, ignorance about their impact is so pervasive, it should constitute a national emergency.
The WEF annual meeting held since 1971, is the foremost creative force for engaging the world’s top leaders in collaborative activities to shape global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of each year, the organisers say.
WEF says its objective is improving the state of the world but has often been accused of being the gathering of those taking a wrecking ball to the world.
Participants will come together at the Annual Meeting to address the most pressing issues on the global agenda. They will do so in an exceptional atmosphere and in the “Spirit of Davos”, featuring interdisciplinary, informal and direct interaction among peers.
The organisers say this year’s event offers a unique opportunity for business to integrate efforts to improve coordination given new challenges to multilateral cooperation, exercise systems thinking and global stewardship, increase social capital to enable multistakeholder collaboration and scale up innovative “lighthouse” projects that are catalysing change globally and locally.
The programme for the 50th Annual Meeting is to achieve impact by improving global governance through public-private cooperation and close collaboration with key international organizations, providing substantial, yet informal, input into key multilateral processes related to achieving inclusive and sustainable growth and mapping a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape and emerging cyberthreats to mitigate and manage global risks.