Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Xenophobia: African leaders, industrialists shun WEF

The recent attacks on foreigners in South Africa did cast a shadow on the 2019 World Economic Forum Africa, as the summit recorded last minute boycotts by prominent leaders in protest of the attacks.

At least four African countries, including Nigeria, pull out of the forum in Cape Town-South Africa, over xenophobic attacks targeted at African nationals in South Africa.

Though the WEF did not confirm the boycotts, the Nigerian government officially announced its withdrawal from the forum. Other countries like Rwanda, Malawi and DR Congo were also absent from the forum.

The founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia also withdrew from further activities at the summit due to the sensitivity of the issues surrounding the lives and well-being of Nigerians living in South Africa.

Before pulling out, Mr. Ovia was a discussant at an earlier session where he spoke on the need for youth empowerment and better government policies to curb continual attacks on persons living within and outside Africa.

He stressed that until positive change towards collective growth happens on this front, the continent would not reach its potential. He called on private investors to massively invest in youth empowerment in order to check the issues of poverty and youth restiveness threatening the African continent.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, told delegates at the summit that the country was going through a difficult time and that majority of South Africans are appalled at the attacks on fellow Africans.

Mboweni who represented President Cyril Ramaphosa at the plenary session called for unity among African countries, with the freedom for its citizens to live freely in any part of the continent.

More than a thousand regional and global leaders from politics, business, civil society and academia were scheduled to hold talks at this year’s forum which had as theme, Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in Fourth Industrial Revolution.



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