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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 January 2007, 10:09 GMT
Crowds gathering for 'anti-Davos'
By Adam Mynott
BBC News, Nairobi

Nairobi Railway Station
The meeting aims to get key social issues on track
Tens of thousands of people are gathering in Nairobi for the annual anti-capitalist get together, the World Social Forum.

The event is being held at the same time as the World Economic Forum - hosted in the Swiss town of Davos.

But, while Davos will bring chief executives from many of the World's largest corporations to discuss business and hammer out trade deals, the Kenyan debates will instead address the wide spectrum of the world's social problems.

And with the "anti-Davos" talks taking place in Nairobi, there will be an emphasis on African issues.

Reflective thinking

Set up in 2001, the forum is described as a platform for reflective thinking and debate, and a chance for ordinary people to exchange ideas opposed to a world dominated by capital and imperialism.

More than 80,000 people from across the globe have already converged on Nairobi for event, which kicks off with an anti-poverty march.

Organisers hope that, by the end of the week, it will have played host to 150,000 participants.

The event is so popular hotels in the city are booked solid, prompting some people to bring tents and sleeping bags.

The World Social Forum will take place over the coming six days in a huge stadium and sports complex on the outskirts of the capital.

It has the motto: "Peoples' struggles, peoples' alternatives - another world is possible".

In keeping with an organisation opposed to prescriptive solutions to the challenges facing the world, there is no fixed agenda.


The array of meetings and activities are "self-organised" by the participants and will cover a topics ranging from HIV/Aids, the landless, peace and conflict, to migration and debt.

And with Africa to be central to many of the discussions, one of the key pressing issues will be Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

The European Union and countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions are currently negotiating the terms of EPAs.

Supporters of the agreements say the will free up world trade and reduce poverty, but opponents believe they will have the opposite effect.

Many people attending the Nairobi Forum believe they will penalise developing nations as under the deals poorer countries would have to open up their borders to duty and tariff-free goods and services from developed nations.

Critics say that by lifting trade barriers, developing nations will be exposed to unfair competition from powerful and multinational companies.

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