SABC News - African leaders endorse new energy deal in Davos :Thursday 21 January 2016

African leaders endorse new energy deal in Davos

Thursday 21 January 2016 21:20

Francis Herd and Mzwandile Mbeje

Head of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina says the new deal aims to bring Africa out of the doldrums and into a ‘new light’.  ((Africa Progress Panel) )

Prominent African leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, have announced a new deal on energy.

Head of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina says the new deal aims to bring Africa out of the doldrums and into a ‘new light’.   

Former United Nations (UN) chief, Kofi Annan, is championing the deal. The leaders say Africa is tired of being in the dark.

Adesina says presidents from several African countries including Rwanda, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast have voluntarily agreed to the new deal and will now have to increase their spending on energy.

The ADB says it will also use its power to direct resources towards power projects.      

Click below for SABC journalist Francis Herd’s latest report  

The South African delegation at the WEF has also given investors an undertaking to address concerns like bureaucratic delays and constraints.

President Jacob Zuma says South Africa's diversified and sophisticated economic market offers global investors a secure base for investment.

Zuma has reiterated that South Africa's advancement in various fields like the financial services sector is proof that government is working hard to ensure that it creates viable conditions for foreign direct investment.

"We want to raise the level of foreign investment in our country. Therefore, our message remains clear. South Africa is open for business. We want to further expand the footprint of our companies on the continent and globally."

Zuma added, "We are here to say to investors that South Africa is where they should be, and we have very good reasons for saying so."

Click below for Mzwandile Mbeje’s latest report   

Zuma's 'No show'

Meanwhile, Zuma missed a Davos panel talk on Africa on Thursday, the continent's top showcase at the alpine gathering, prompting questions about his commitment to drumming up interest in his country's struggling economy.

Zuma's office denied he was a 'no-show' at the discussion, which featured Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, saying it had told Davos organisers last week of a "scheduling change".

It also dismissed as "inaccurate and mischievous" a domestic media report that Zuma had only pulled out of the event late on Wednesday, and said South Africa's delegation was being well-received at the event.

"The message that South Africa is open for business is being communicated by the President, Ministers and business leaders in all sessions in Davos," it said in a statement.

In Zuma's absence, South Africa had no representation on the CNBC-sponsored Africa panel. Instead, he attended a bilateral meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to discuss "warm and strong bilateral relations".

When contacted by Reuters to ask why Zuma was not on the Africa panel as scheduled, spokeperson Bongani Majola reacted by saying: "Are you sure about that?" Davos organisers were yet to respond to Reuters' questions on the timing of the president's withdrawal from the event.

The opposition Democratic Alliance said Zuma's failure to attend the panel was typical of his indifference to the plight of an economy forecast to grow at less than 1% this year.

"The president is behaving as somebody who is not aware of the fact our economy is in crisis," party leader Mmusi Maimane told Reuters.

"The whole purpose of his being in Davos is to try to generate confidence in the South African economy."

- Additional reporting by Reuters

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