The 19th World Economic Forum on Africa started on Wednesday in the coastal city of Cape Town, South Africa, under the theme of "Implications of the Global Economic Crisis for Africa".
The meeting comes as the global economic meltdown has mounted pressure on major economies in Africa, sucking the strength of traditional economic drivers like foreign investment, demand for raw material and oversea remittance.
Jiang Jianqing, co-chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa and chairman of the board of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, said at the press conference that the Davos meetings of the World Economic Forum he attended have inspired him a lot.
"It was my first time to take part in the Africa meeting of the forum, " Jiang said, "I desire to learn the opinions and suggestions of all sides on how to cope with the challenges brought by the global crisis."
Jiang and Liu Guijin, special representative of African affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, would attend parts of the sessions of the forum.
Prior to the meeting, Head of Africa of the World Economic Forum Katherine Tweedie highlighted the urgency of exploring how macroeconomic shifts are shaping the global agenda and how these trends are affecting Africa's diverse economies.
"Most importantly, the meeting will facilitate interaction and dialogue that will allow our key leaders to address the immediate challenges posed by the crisis and fully explore the unique opportunities that Africa has at its doorstep in this new global arena," Tweedie said.
The talks attract over 800 participants from 50 countries. Five African leaders have confirmed their attendance, including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga, Lesotho's Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosislili, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, newly-elected South African President Jacob Zuma and his Zambian counterpart Rupiah Bwezani Banda.
Participants of the forum will try to seek practical solutions to foster better business practices and greater investment across the continent.
The first event of the meeting would be a highly interactive session to engage over 350 leaders in a brainstorming exercise. Leaders will examine the changing global landscape and determine the major challenges for which African countries need to be most prepared in the coming year.
The discussions will be based on five general themes in the fields of politics, business and economics, namely, Global Shifts; Regional Effects; Drivers of the Economy; Change Leadership; Collaboration across Borders; and Growth through Innovation.
Among high-profile topics to be discussed are Macroeconomic Shifts in the Global Agenda, Economic Crisis and Impact on Africa.
Economic deliberations will be closely linked to important social and environmental issues including food security, climate change, health care and education.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa also draws the attention of business leaders in the world. They will try to explore the economic and social impacts of the international football event in the forum.
The closing plenary session of the platform scheduled for Friday afternoon will highlight the outcomes of the meeting and map out the future engagement of main stakeholders.
The Africa meeting followed the international talks in Jordan sponsored by the World Economic Forum to map out the Middle East response to the world economic crisis.