24 May 2013
As a continent, Africa needs to pause and reflect on the history of the past 50 years and begin to develop lessons for the next 50 years, says National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel.
Speaking at the African Renaissance Conference in Durban on Thursday, Manuel said Africans needed to ask “what we learnt from the various strategies we used to regain our independence. What progress have we made? What are our successes and where have we failed?”
Manuel said the key lesson that Africa should take was responsibility, adding that Africans could not allow their agenda to be set by anyone else.
“We cannot expect things to be done for us. If we want to advance, we need to catalyse the change we want to see through better planning and more effective implementation. We need to use the resources at our disposal to drive the agenda of raising the standards of living of our people.”
According to Manuel, Africa needs regional integration that draws on the respective strengths of the different countries that make up the continent in order to overcome its shortcomings.
Countries should draw on each other’s strengths to build “the desirable” for all countries – not for one country to develop on the back of the suffering of another.
“To progress as a continent and take advantage of the favourable position we find ourselves in, we must move from the premise that we can only benefit from each other’s strength.”
However, for this to work, the continent would need careful planning, a ruthless focus on implementation, and political stamina.
Manuel said that South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP), which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030, is clear about the importance of education and training as a key foundation for social development and progress.
In order to improve the continent’s skills base, a concerted effort was required, starting with correcting the basics.
“We must raise the bar for all concerned to ensure that the education that all our children, regardless of where the school is located or whether it was a former Model C school, provides the highest quality possible,” he said.