This is the consensus coming out of various presentations made by analysts and experts here at Africa Media Forum. Ben Kruger, deputy chief executive for Standard Bank Group, speaking on the bank's strategy in the continent, stated that the continent's survival ability as shown by the recent resistance to the world economic recession points to a continent that should play a strong role in the world economy.
Kruger said all indications are that economic growth from the continent whose countries dominate the list of the highest growth economies remains strong.Kruger therefore added, the bank's African strategy remains unchanged from its original intention which is to leverage off its specific expertise in the African market especially in the southern African region and strengthen its position in the rest of the continent.
He said the bank's objective is to build a leading African financial services organisation, to serve the needs of its clients through first class on-the-ground operations in chosen countries in Africa. "We would also be looking to use our advantage to connect selected emerging markets to Africa," he added.
In its latest report released this month on the continent, titled 'Africa Pulse', the World Bank states: "Excluding South Africa, the region's largest economy, growth is forecast at six percent, making it one of the fastest growing developing regions.
Indeed, a third of countries in the
region will be growing at or above six percent". Thoraya Pandy, Africa Head of Communications at Standard said the projected growth rate for the continent stood at around five percent average. She believes the continent's growth is sustainable.
Some commentators have pointed to the importance of small to medium enterprises as the key to unlocking the benefits of economic growth to wider reach and strengthening economic development. Fred Swaniker, CEO of an NGO, African Leadership Network, pointed to the need to develop the relevant leadership base to take advtantage of this moment in the continent's history.
He said the current crop of leaders had provided peace to the continent and what was needed was a leadership which could add prosperity to the continent. One of the experts, Terry Moodley argued that a strong and growing middle class in Africa provides the right preconditions for a sustained economic growth.
The Africa Media Forum and Communication Conference is a gathering of senior media professionals and communication experts. The Standard Bank Group sponsored event kicked off on Tuesday and will end today. Among the presenters and panel discussants are senior company executives, media leaders such as Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes and New Media consultant Walter Pike. Topics varied from the group's strategies to media relations, ethics in media and even the business of football.