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Davos 2012: All the developments from day 2 of the summit

World leaders, economists and thinkers in Davos, Switzerland, for the second day of the World Economic Forum meeting

Our economics editor Larry Elliott has been watching Gordon Brown’s Africa session. He sends us these thoughts:

Gordon Brown is chairing a Davos session on Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa has recovered quickly from the Great Recession of 2008-09, Brown says, but big challenges remain. Africa is 15% of the world’s population but accounts for only 1% of global manufacturing and 1% of global inward investment.

Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia, expresses confidence that Africa will be the next “growth pole” of the global economy and is in the position that India was in at the start of the 1990s, before its rapid economic take-off period.

Africa needs three things, he adds: higher investment in infrastructure; better skills; and to attract low-cost manufacturing plants which are looking to re-locate from Asia.

Sarah Brown, Gordon’s wife, is tweeting the session:

President Zuma of South Africa: optimistic about Africa’s leadership and knows the future is on their own hands @WEF #davos

— Sarah Brown (@SarahBrownUK) January 26, 2012

President Kikwete: we are all part of global economy- that affects Africa; need to invest in education as our men & women make things happen

— Sarah Brown (@SarahBrownUK) January 26, 2012

9.46am: Yesterday we heard how bankers actually hissed Peter Mandelson during one Davos session. Today it’s become clearer that the former EU trade commissioner and UK cabinet minister is attempting to distance himself from the global financial elite. Our reporter here in London, Shiv Malik, has the story:

Lord Mandelson has admitted that he is no longer ‘intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes’, given rising inequality and stagnating middle class incomes brought about by the damaging downsides of globalisation.

Almost a decade and a half after making his remarks which came to characterise the Labour government’s embrace of free markets and the City, Mandelson said that he was now “much more concerned” about inequality than when he made first made his comments to a US industrialist in California in 1998.

Describing his previous his remarks as ‘spontaneous and un-thoughtful’, Mandelson who has held a number of government posts during his long political career but was most recently business secretary under Gordon Brown’s government, said he would no longer repeat them today.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme after the publication in Davos on Wednesday of a think tank report on the future of Globalisation, Mandelson said, ‘I don’t think I would say that now. Why? Because amongst other things we’ve seen that globalisation has not generated the rising incomes for all,’ he said.

In an about turn from one of the staunchest defenders of free trade and globalisation on the left, the former European Trade commissioner also made the argument for greater government control and economic intervention and believed that the UK needed to develop a ‘modern industrial policy’.

9.41am: The main hall is packed for Gordon Brown’s session on ‘Africa – From Transition to Transformation’. He’s joined by Jacob Zuma, the South African president, Alpha Condé, president of Guinea, Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania, Raila Odinga, prime minister of Kenya and Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian PM.

Zenawi just accidentally called Brown “Mr Prime Minister”.

9.32am: Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown is due to speak twice today – once in a few minutes and once at 11:30 UK time, when he’ll clash with Ed Miliband, also due to speak then.

He’s likely to be touting his new global fund for education – an ambitious project aimed at achieving universal primary education by 2015. In a report released today, Brown warns of “a hidden and silent emergency in education”. He says:

Cameras never capture children going hungry for want of education, or lives devastated for want of learning.

9.18am: More Gates! The excellent World Economic Forum live feed is currently broadcasting a press conference with Gates and Simon Bland.

The topic is the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is 10 years old this month.

Jill tells me that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is putting 0m in the form of a promissory note into the Global Fund. He urged contributors not to pull back on their commitments because of tough economic times. She also said that Simon Bland, who runs the fund, acknowledged that taxpayers question the value of aid during tough economic times. Even so, he is going to be asking governments for fresh support.

9.09am: More from that Bill Gates session, ‘Ensuring Food Security’. Also on the panel are José Graziano da Silva of the UN’s food and agriculture organisation, Swiss Re CEO Stefan Lippe and Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who replaces the advertised Goodluck Jonathan (he’s got a lot on his hands at the moment, with fuel protests and terrorism plunging Nigeria into civil crisis).

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has invested millions of dollars in food security projects and the philanthropist takes a keen interest in the issue. It’s something that has increasingly preoccupied policy makers as commodity prices, including those of basic foodstuffs, have rocketed. More from Jill:

‘Ensuring food security’ was one of the main events early in Thursday’s programme in Davos. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, finance director of Nigeria, provided an interesting anecdote in a wide-ranging debate about the grain lost each year. A chief executive visiting Nigeria had said to her that he was amazed by not seeing a single cold storage truck while visting the country. ‘Now I understood the losses,’ he said to her.

Josette Sheeran, exectuive director of United Nations World Food Programme, stated that people who don’t have food have three choices – ‘revolt, migrate or die’. ‘We need a better plan,’ she said, pointing to the one in seven people who are food insecure. 70% of brain growth takes place before the age of two so deprivation of food in infants is long-lasting.

Crucially Jose Graziano da Silva reckons the world’s 7bn population will be adequately fed in 20 years time. ‘I am confident we can do it. The problem is not supply side. The problem is access to food.’

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilver who is co-chair at this year’s Davos, pointed that his company is trying to decouple growth from environmental impact. Unilever has commitment to getting all raw materials sustainably. He is also head of the B20 which meets alongside the G20 leaders. Brono Le Maire, French agriculture minister, admitted that the economic crisis in Europe could take food security off the agenda. He made it clear that he really didn’t think that should happen.

So has capitalism had failed food security – investing in agricultures provides good returns? Microsoft founder and now head of his foundation, Bill Gates, said: ‘no one ever said capitalism solves everything’. Stefan Lippe, chief executive of Swiss Re, said his firm was developing ways to protect investors against weather risk – that would bring in more investment.

8.32am: Jill Treanor‘s already up and running with a fascinating insight into why the summit is so crucial to business leaders, and first mention of an intriguing concept: the southern ‘silk road’.

Starting off with a breakfast with HSBC, where chief executive Stuart Gulliver has given me a quick insight into how he spends his days while at Davos. About 60 meetings in 4 days – based roughly on 12 meetings a day plus a breakfast and a lunch. He’s seeing clients, central bankers etc. And from all around the world. Yesterday? Mexico, Saudi, Italy, US, Switzerland and Brazil to name a few … It illustrates why people come to this ski resort.

HSBC is doing its best to present a more up-beat view of the world. The bank’s chief economist Stephen King set out the case this morning for what he calls a southern ‘silk road’. The idea is that emerging markets will start to trade with each other, not just with the more developed economies. He reckons trade will develop tenfold between Asia, the Middle East and Africa which will change the world does business. He describes it as a ‘return to the world as it was perhaps a thousand years ago’. What he means is that Europe will be on the periphery rather than at the centre of world trade.

There will be implications for even the way cars are made – as places such as China and India demand cars, they will need to be smaller ones than those for the US market, where, to put it politely, the population has been getting heavier. There were a couple of people on the panel with King, including Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman of Hero Corporate Service, who offered the following insight: China makes a decision and implements tomorrow. India makes a decision and starts a debate about it.

8.29am: Good morning. We’re back following events in Davos, where Bill Gates is currently holding forth on food security and David Cameron, fresh from Brussels, is set to take the stage at 10:30 UK time. Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson are also due to speak – it’s a Britain’s day at Davos.

Yesterday Angela Merkel delivered the summit’s opening speech and captured the news agenda by simultaneously releasing an interview to 6 European newspapers, including the Guardian. For all the latest developments on the ongoing crisis in the eurozone, have a look at my colleague Graeme Wearden and Julia Kollewe’s liveblog. For everything Davos, stay tuned here.

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