A World Economic Forum sign hangs from a building near the conference centre in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday. World leaders, executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 46th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from January 19-23. Picture: BLOOMBERG/MATTHEW LLOYD
A World Economic Forum sign hangs from a building near the conference centre in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday. World leaders, executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 46th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from January 19-23. Picture: BLOOMBERG/MATTHEW LLOYD

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma will endeavour to convince international investors that SA remains an attractive investment destination — and will grapple with issues such as the effect of technological change on Africa at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, which opens this week.

Mr Zuma will lead a government delegation to Davos that includes as many as seven Cabinet ministers in his first major appearance on a global platform since the currency crash he caused when he fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene last month and installed two replacements within five days.

More than 80 South African businesses, government and nongovernmental organisation leaders will attend the WEF, and the president told journalists on Friday it was important "when we go to Davos, we call ourselves Team SA".

In addition to Mr Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the government delegation includes Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.

Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago will also be attending the forum, as will Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

Although government ministers do not pay the steep fees the WEF charges corporate participants in the Davos meeting, the costs of travel and of accommodation in the Swiss village are likely to be steeper this year with the rand having fallen by about a quarter against the Swiss franc since last January.

SA’s large public sector party also includes Public Investment Corporation CEO Daniel Matjila, Transnet acting CEO Siyabonga Gama, Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and the CEs of the Development Bank and of the Industrial Development Corporation.

Among the business people headed for Davos are the CEOs of SA’s big five banks, and of Sasol, Sappi, Imperial Holdings, MMI Holdings, Group Five and Woolworths. JSE CEO Nicky Newton King is also due to attend. The theme at Davos this year is "Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution", which the WEF says refers to the fusion of technologies across physical, digital and biological worlds and the considerable effects this is having.

WEF head of media content Oliver Cann said where last year there was a lot of talk of geopolitics, this year there has a been a subtle change in emphasis with the WEF looking to understand the breakneck pace of technological change. However, the global economy and the challenges it faces, and the geopolitical landscape, will receive as much attention as ever.

Mr Zuma is due to speak on a televised panel on "Africa’s next challenge" that focuses particularly on the effect of technological change on the continent.

The meetings and networking on the sidelines tend to be more important, however, than the formal sessions at Davos. Others on the panel include the prime minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Dessalega and African Development Bank president Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina.

Mr Gordhan is on a panel on accelerating access to capital while Mr Kganyago is due to speak in a discussion on sub-Saharan Africa’s transformation and the SA participants are on the platorm in several other sessions.

The meetings and networking on the sidelines tend to be more important, however, than the formal sessions at Davos.

The annual World Economic Forum on Africa meeting this year will convene in Kigali, Rwanda in May.