WEF, Davos 23: Nonkululeko Nyembezi – ‘Africa is our play’

Standard Bank chair Nonkululeko Nyembezi, says: “Africa is our play, we want to gather support for Africa. The key issues we are keenly following in Davos with regard to the African continent are growth, climate change and the enormous opportunities that surround the African Continental Free Trade Area.”

Nonkululeko Nyembezi on Africa’s key focus areas 

Africa is our home, we drive her growth and we are pretty serious about it. The really pertinent issues for Africa are growth and climate change. We are involved in all of those discussions, as well as the Africa Free Trade Continental agreement. So, Davos is an opportunity to put it all together and not just go for a single issue, but see a multiplicity of stakeholders and interested parties in order to build the wave towards where we want to go. People keep saying the 21st century is the century for Africa. I really believe it has got to be this century. If we don’t make it happen, I don’t think it will ever happen. So, we want to corral the support to focus on the African continent and its many avenues for investment. 

Opportunities in South Africa despite its challenges 

Time will tell because we’ve been absent from the forum for a while as a big team. There was Davos last year but the business community is here now to say, look, although there are a lot of challenges and constraints because of the power shortages – year in and year out – South African private business reports good results and we are able to navigate and get the better of that. The  fact that there is no power does not mean  we cannot do business. Europe is also having its own power outages and power issues, so it doesn’t land quite as negatively as it might have landed at any other time. Of course, time will tell. We continue to drive this drumbeat of FDI. You don’t stop just because you are experiencing a downturn. It is true it would have been better not to have had these constraints, but we can discuss with our counterparts what we do as South African business to contend with the situation. 

Benefits of being at Davos 

This is only one half for me. The other half is that if you have an interest in a subject at Davos, you will meet an absolute world expert talking about that subject. You learn in three days what would have taken you very long, if ever. You get to have Q and As with top minds in the world. I think that is very valuable. Secondly, you get to have the most interesting conversations with people you just bump into in corridors. So, that whole lowering of the barrier of interactions between people is something Davos gives you. No other platform does it. There is a richness in the conversations you can have but also a richness in the intellectual inputs you are exposed to. Then the cherry on top is, of course, the collaboration piece. 

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