[Apologies for poor audio quality]
GUGULETHU MFUPHI: Well, if you are wondering why I am in the hot seat tonight, that is because my colleague Hilton Tarrant has made his way to the World Economic Forum currently being held in Davos, Switzerland. The conference officially kicks off tomorrow evening at 19:00, where global leaders are expected to meet and discuss several burning issues impacting the global economy. Hilton joins us on the line now.
Hilton, not only will you be rubbing shoulders with these leaders, but I guess also fighting off the cold?
HILTON TARRANT: [Laughs] Evening, Gugu. Actually not as cold as one would expect. Lots of snow here in Davos. Some fairly heavy snowfall this afternoon, but rather quiet still ahead of tomorrow’s official opening. Lots of preparation happening at the moment. There are barricades at centres going up…[indistinct] and yeah, kicking off tomorrow at seven.
GUGULETHU MFUPHI: The news from the World Economic Forum slightly slow as things pick up, but I understand there is a more upbeat feeling and everyone has a more positive outlook.
HILTON TARRANT: Definitely a more upbeat feeling this year. Last year in the European crisis…not as upbeat as this year. Resilient Dynamism is the theme for the World Economic Forum annual meeting this year, the 43rd time that the World Economic Forum is being held at Davos. Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the WEF interestingly pointed to the fact that we’ve got to get out of this crisis mode, last week he said at a press conference. Resilient Dynamism has three pillars underpinning that theme for this year, leading to adversity, restoring economic dynamism and strengthening societal resilience. Klaus was also saying that hard times require successful organisations to master strategic… and build risk resilience. So very upbeat and optimistic and some would say even a counter-intuitive look at the year ahead.
GUGULETHU MFUPHI: Hilton, key highlights or speaking events that you are looking forward to?
HILTON TARRANT: Well, I think the big one at tomorrow’s opening, Charlize Theron will be receiving the Crystal Award for her work in Africa in fighting HIV/Aids, so one of only three people to get the Crustal Award. Lots, lots to get through on the programme. There are 2 600 participants here this year and 680 of those are chief executives or have chief executive in their title. There are 126 representatives from South Africa and interestingly South Africa’s punching way above its weight. South Africa has the sixth-most government ministers and, obviously including our President Zuma here, we have nine ministers and…more than the UK, which I find quite surprising. But on par with Nigeria and France. So lots of sessions involving some of our South African ministers. I know Trevor Manuel is in a session, Jacob Zuma is in a session with the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. A special session focusing on Africa and that’s coming up on Wednesday. And 37 sitting presidents or prime ministers also…attending. The highlight – Russia seemingly a central…will be speaking. We’ve got Mario Monti from Italy…who’s on his way out, in a session. David Cameron, who seems to be overlooked every now and then in our reading and watching global coverage, will also be addressing delegates. So a lot to look forward to.
GUGULETHU MFUPHI: Indeed, and we’ll keep following you and your update for more on that.
• Subscribe to a daily email of transcripts from Moneyweb Radio – click here