The global gathering of some of the world’s most powerful and influential political, business and academic leaders in the now famous Switzerland town of Davos, opens today with the formidable presence of Nigerian businessmen, including Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote of the Dangote Group; banker turned serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and champion of Africapitalism, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, as well as Wale Tinubu, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Oando Group, in attendance.
But political campaigning for the 2015 elections kept Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, away from the opening and BusinessDay has been reliably informed that he is not likely to attend throughout the four days the meetings are expected to last. His spokesman, Reuben Abati, simply said in a phone text message in response to the question whether or not the president was coming to Davos: “No. We are busy with campaign.”
The Davos meetings are holdings at a time that the world is gripped by the twin challenges of falling crude oil prices and a renewed wave of insecurity that has spread to different reaches, including Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country, where the insurgency group, Boko Haram, has laid siege to the North East of the country.
Nigeria’s billionaire, Dangote, entrepreneur Elumelu and Tinubu, whose company, Oando Plc, successfully closed a take-over deal involving America’s ConocoPhillips’ Nigeria oil assets last year, are playing a key role in shaping discussions at the meeting, especially on sessions dealing with African issues.
This morning Dangote, Tinubu and the famous former Barclays Bank chief executive and investment banker, Bob Diamond, will be involved in a breakfast discussion on investments and the prospects of Africa, hosted by Agility, the Africa focused investment house managed by Geoffrey White.
Elumelu will be involved in many panels during the meetings, including those dealing with confronting the challenge of atastrophic outbreak where the handling of the 2014 Ebola outbreak will be discussed. He will also be involved in a panel discussion on closing the energy gap in Africa. Elumelu’s Heirs Holdings has investments spanning oil, gas and power sectors across Africa.
There are seven key thematic directions that the political, business, academic and media leaders attending this year’s meetings are focusing on.
These include the ever present issue of climate change, especially with kept records showing that 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history. They will also be discussing political stability particularly how terrorism is shaping political power especially in the middle east; the outbreak of pandemics with last year’s Ebola outbreak exposing the world’s lack of adequate and immediate response that was needed; technology is also a topic the leaders will be examining, in particular the issue of cyber security in the wake of the imminence of a global cyber warfare.
Also to be examined are the instrument of quantitative easing that was used in the last round of the financial crisis that hit the world and the role of central banks.
Inequality, particularly income inequality, will also engage the attention of the leaders. This is a recurring subject at these meetings and it is one that has defied solutions. Many say because the subject continues to recur at these meetings, it is one of the reasons why critics say it is a yearly talkshop that provide little or no solutions to the world’s problems.
Leaders would in the next four days also be looking at the world of energy particularly in relations to global crude oil prices that have continued to fall, whose impact means different things to attendees at these meetings. Both exporters and an oil consuming west are expected to provide different fronts in the debate on the current state of oil prices as the debates unfold.