POLITICS
28/01/2018 13:59 SAST | Updated 29/01/2018 06:51 SAST

The Davos Wrap: Ramaphosa Returns With 'Bag Full Of Investment Commitments'

What have SA and the world gotten out of Davos?

U.S. President Donald Trump attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018.

South Africa's delegation has benefited hugely from its "pilgrimage to Davos" and has returned home with a "bag full of investment commitments," Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said according to a City Press report on Sunday.

Ramaphosa said the work of 'team South Africa' at the World Economic Forum in Davos has "paid enormous dividends" and that the team has returned home with a "great deal of confidence".

During a session at the WEF this week, Ramaphosa said many business leaders are "buoyed by this new mood in the country," adding that international investors signalled South Africa is "still an important destination for investment".

"In the meetings we have had, we had nothing negative... said about our country. All we have had is encouragement," he said, according to City Press.

I go home a very satisfied deputy president of the republic.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, additionally, said Davos investors noted a positive mood among South African businesses and a delegation that is "confident about growth prospects this year".

The Davos 'call to action': 'globalise compassion and leave no-one behind'

At the closing of the mega-event on Friday, Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, emphasised Davos 2018 should be "the beginning of a movement where we globalise compassion and ensure a world in which no-one is left behind".

Wrapping up the final session, Burrow "celebrated the spirit of inclusion, diversity and respect for human rights that characterised this year's meeting," the WEF said.

Over the past week, over 3,000 participants from nearly 110 countries -- including over 70 heads of state -- convened with the professed aim of "identifying ways for humanity to work collectively once more in the face of urgent global and regional challenges".

Among its broader 'outcomes', the WEF said, are greater worldwide, collaborative efforts to 'close the gender pay gap', ramp up ocean conservation efforts, fight financial crime and modern slavery, and encourage development of new-generation antibiotics.

Some of the most notable 'outcomes' from the Meeting include:

  • 'Preparing for anticipated job losses': With millions of workers around the world expected to lose their jobs due to technological change, the WEF has put emphasis on a 'reskilling revolution' to provide world leaders with "guidance needed to find new, gainful employment"
  • 'Tackling waste and pollution': Major companies -- including Alphabet, Unilever and Coca-Cola -- are reportedly partnering with national governments (Indonesia, Nigeria, China and Rwanda) and international organisations to curb electronic waste and plastics pollution
  • 'Tackling the cyber threat': The Forum announced the launch of the Global Centre for Cybersecurity aimed at "creating a safe environment" for new technologies including robotics, drones and artificial intelligence
  • Eliminating 'fake news': The WEF and Craig Newmark Foundation launched a joint venture intended to bring internet platform giants with multi-stakeholder to devise responses to the problem of 'fake news'

'Governments fuelling inequality'

The WEF's mega-congregation of the who's who in global business and politics, however, prompts annual criticism from protesting groups who view the Forum as naught but a playground for networking elites.

This year, among those not buying into the the Forum's messages were protesters in Swiss cities who took particular objection to the inclusion of U.S. President Donald Trump in the meeting, according to Reuters.

Director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, also added the organisation's voice to criticism of Trump's so-called 'America First' agenda, a prominent 'theme' at Davos this week, saying the agenda was really about putting 'billionaires first'.

Byanyima -- whose organisation also released staggering (though heavily criticised and not undisputed) data on global inequality -- said governments around the world are "fuelling the inequality crisis by slashing taxes for corporations and the super-rich, scrapping labour rights and cutting funding for essential public services".

"People are ready for change. They want to see workers paid a living wage, they want corporations and the super-rich to pay more tax, they want women workers to enjoy the same rights as men, and they want governments run for the benefit of ordinary people – not billionaires," she said.