The turnaround of Africa from a “hopeless Continent” to a rising star is the result of profound changes that have taken place in the last ten years. Stability in governance, peace and democracy; infrastructure development; developing trade policies that allow for better regional trade; and poverty eradication as a priority for each government. These are the changes that have made way for steady progress and have providing Africa’s entrepreneurs with the necessary environment to promote themselves and establish different industries.
Brand South Africa chairperson, Chichi Maponya, says that the new developments in Africa are supported by growth figures in the last decade. “According to figures from the International Monetary Fund, region-wide GDP growth has averaged 5.5% from 2000 to 2010. More than double the rate we had in Africa during the 1980s and 1990s.”
Ms. Maponya also adds that the biggest problem with Africa is the disunity amongst its people and the scepticism about its state.
“More and more governments and global investors are recognising and appreciating the value of cohesive societies. The process of democracy can never be complete when the demographic is ambivalent, disbelieving and unconvinced in a country’s potential. It goes beyond infrastructure developments and establishing a Free Trade Area – it’s about understanding the benefits of these developments in Africa and how they will ensure that every single person, small and large business, private sector and public departments, all progress.”
President Zuma also spoke about the impact of military coups and forced removals of democratically governments. As Africa is still embracing the arrival of democracy in over a two-thirds of its countries, instability in governance, security and peace not only steer foreign direct investment in the other direction, but also discourage entrepreneurial development. Achieving stable governance, policies and security has been the cornerstone for South Africa’s development. Ms. Maponya says that last month’s coup in Mali is the sort of occurrence that should not be tolerated on the continent.
“Africa needs to guarantee peace of mind to foreign investors and the region’s governments. We cannot achieve the establishment of sustainable larger regional markets if there are countries still being run under military rule or dictatorship. It jeopardises the strides that have been made and the constitutional rights of every citizen on the continent.”
The Africa Dialogue continues to address governance, policy, trade and economic challenges that Africa still faces; and will further discuss what the past decade’s achievements mean for business, government and citizens. Leaders are also discussing possible ways to make it easier to facilitate the movement of goods across the continent’s borders so that trade can be faster.
Brand South Africa, previously known as the International Marketing Council of South Africa, officially changed its name to best align with its mandate of building South Africa’s nation brand reputation in order to improve its global competitiveness.