The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) take place in Davos Switzerland this week. The 2019 event will feature over 3,500 attendees from 115 “economies” (according to WEF) of who 118 are from Africa. Among this number, 57 are from South Africa, 16 from Nigeria, 13 from Kenya, 9 from Egypt, 6 each from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, 5 Rwanda, 4 Cote d’Ivoire and 3 from Morocco.
This year Qz has drilled down the attendees by continent, and listed under Kenya are Jesse Moore (M-Kopa), Katie Hill (Liquid Telecom), Mohammed Hassan (Kakuma Refugee Camp), Patrick Njoroge (Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya), Dr. Githinji Gitahi (CEO, AMREF) Agnes Kalibata (AGRA President), Paul Okumu (AfricaPlatform), Peter Munya (the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives), Liz Muange and Kanini Mutooni (both of USAID), Kennedy Odede (CEO Shining Hope), Mohamed Al-Beity (Savannah Fund) and Winnie Byanyima (Executive Director Oxfam).
Other familiar attendees from the continent include Tony Elumelu (Chairman of UBA Group), Ahmed Heikal (Qalaa), Cyril Ramaphosa (President, South Africa), Abiy Ahmed (Prime Minister, Ethiopia) Yoweri Museveni (President, Uganda), Moussa Mahamat (Chairperson African Union Commission), Akinwumi Adesina (President, African Development Bank), and Paul Kagame (President, Rwanda), Elizabeth Rossiello (CEO BitPesa – now in Senegal), and Emmerson Mnangagwa (President, Zimbabwe) who may have withdrawn to deal with the latest chapter in the country’s economic crisis.
Others are Mthuli Ncube (Finance Minister, Zimbabwe), from Botswana President Eric Masisi and Investment Minister Bogolo Kenewendo, Kamissa Camara (Foreign Affairs Minister Mali) and from the DRC is Denis Mukwege, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. Qz notes that the youngest attendee at Davos this year is the 16-year-old photographer Skye Meaker from South Africa.
Also on the list is William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, a now frequent attendee at Davos. In his fascinating book, “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice”, he writes of his first visit to Davos – where in 1996, he gatecrashed the town of Davos with an investment banking friend. They did not have an innovation to the $50,000 annual summit, “an A-list party of the business world,” in which all hotel rooms are booked a year in advance. But they did mingle around the town and met a former finance minister of Russia in a group where they had an eerie conversation about investing in Russia.
“Don’t worry about the election, Yeltsin is going to win for sure.”
“How can you say that? His approval rating is barely 6%”
“These guys will fix that”