26 January 2012 23:13

Davos 2012: Great transformation-shaping models. Ralph Mupita - new CEO, Old Mutual Emerging Markets

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Alec Hogg is a writer and broadcaster. He founded Moneyweb

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    ‘I wish that every…South African could be exposed to what happens at Davos.’ - Russell Loubser

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    ALEC HOGG: Ralph Mupita, just summing up on the Africa scene, just to close off, it does feel like it's pretty good, it's better, to be African here this year than perhaps European or even American.

    RALPH MUPITA: It's always better to be African, actually! But particularly at this time it is Africa’s time, and I think part of the discussion that I was in during the session that you went to – Transition to Transformation – was a discussion about how do we harness the resources that we have in Africa, and the opportunity to make sure that the African continent is fully developed, either through developing trade relations that are preferential on the continent, looking at beneficiation, looking at capital markets’ development. So I think Africa’s time is now, and action is required.

    ALEC HOGG: The big thing that came through there as well was it cannot be at any cost. You cannot just attract capital – particularly at the moment it is all coming from China and India – and just let them run roughshod. Africa actually has to make its own decisions.

    RALPH MUPITA: Well, the session I was in, we had the prime minister of Ethiopia and, in our discussions about capital markets and the need for pension-type funds to be pooled and applied to infrastructure development, his point of view was actually in Ethiopia for the next three to five years it's all covered by, as you say, India, Brazil and China. So the point of “at all costs” is something we need to think about as a continent realistically and it's going to be on the agenda for World Economic Forum Africa in Addis Ababa in May.

    ALEC HOGG: Well, it's been a rather cerebral discussion this evening on the Moneyweb SAfm market update, but I hope that you’ve taken in a bit of this, because that’s what it's like, Russell. You get an injection, almost like a big injection of wisdom, and shove it into your head, and in some way you’ve got to make sense of all of this.

    RUSSELL LOUBSER: Well, that’s what I like about Davos – because you just find the level of debate on any topic is just so much higher, and every year that I experience it I wish that every single South African could be exposed to what happens at Davos. In fact, I wish every single politician, especially in South Africa, could be exposed to the level of debate, because it's just that much higher.

    ALEC HOGG: We get stretched, don’t we? Our minds get stretched.

    RUSSELL LOUBSER: Absolutely we are stretched. And if you are not exposed to this, then you seem to think that things that you deal with in South Africa – that’s the be-all and the end-all. That's especially what I enjoy about Davos – just this mind-opening, broadening thing, where the level of debate is just that much higher on every single topic. Amazing.

    ALEC HOGG: Alan, a last word from you. It’s not necessarily that you are seeing the other side of the world for the first time, because you have lived abroad and you’ve travelled often. But the networks that you are creating now, as a Young Global Leader, must be extraordinary.

    ALAN-KNOTT CRAIG: Ja, I'm making a lot of new friends and, to Russell’s point, it's great to stand and listen on these panels and hear some of these people. For me personally, what I really get out of this is hopefully not over-confidence, but a sense of confidence that we are certainly not behind when it comes to strategic thinking or ability to execute, or infrastructure. There’s just so much. We are actually at almost any level able to compete with the rest of the world. It's just sometimes a case kind of belief. You watch all the TV stuff and you just think, we’ll never beat these guys – and then you don’t. But I’ll hopefully go back to SA a little bit more confident about everything. And the one interesting thing is we are coming here, they are not coming to South Africa, and that’s another advantage we have. We do have an understanding of the emerging market context.

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