FOLLOWING robust discussions pertaining to the establishment of a new Africa free trade area in recent years, MTN Group will this week make a strong case as to why increasing the continent’s foreign investment share is key to unlocking economic growth opportunities – starting with the need to bridge digital decide.
The mobile operator’s group CEO, Rob Shuter, is scheduled to speak on investing in digital for inclusive growth in the 4th Industrial Revolution at the four-day, World Economic Forum’s Annual Meetings, which kicked off today (Tuesday) in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. In line with the 2019 theme; Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the highly anticipated annual gathering of the world’s top leaders will unpack major developments on the global landscape, covering several topical areas, including economic policies, human capital, industry systems, cybersecurity and institutional reform. Shuter will contribute to a series of high-level panel topics, including the establishment of a single African market under the CFTA agreement and accelerating investment to support universal access to broadband.
The meeting comes just less than a year after African leaders signed a framework establishing the AU (African Union) brokered agreement, which aim is to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. According to previous reports, at only 28% the pan-African trade total ratio is comparibly low against that of Asia and Europe, made up of 59% and 69% respectively. Despite Africa’s growing integration with the global economy in recent years, in total Africa only represents 2.4% of total global exports.
However, should all 55 African countries join the free trade area by 2030, this could generate over USD$ 6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending and most importantly help facilitate quality job creation in the process.
Increasing financial inclusion at the top of the agenda for MTN
Taking into consideration the 220 million customers MTN services across 21 African countries, it will be great to hear how the company is working towards reducing the digital divide and increasing financial inclusion. To this end, MTN’s top priority has been to provide mobile financial services to 60 million customers by 2020, up from 23 million now across the 14 markets where it has launched the product.
“With the youthful population in Africa being born digital, and mobile devices and networks being at the heart of the digital revolution on our continent, the 4th Industrial Revolution gives the continent an opportunity to leverage our assets to leapfrog development and economic growth,” Shuter said adding: “MTN understands that investing in digital does not only make financial sense, it will be the life blood that sustains us all as we move towards the 4th Industrial Revolution.” South Africa will be represented by a sizeable delegation which will make the strong case for investing in the country as one of the world’s “hot emerging market economies” by mobilising public-private collaboration for inclusive growth and development.