Invest in Africa, Zuma tells business

8 May 2013

President Jacob Zuma, addressing the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum in Cape Town on Tuesday, encouraged South African companies to do more business in Nigeria and on the continent.

Zuma told the high-profile gathering of South African and Nigerian government and business leaders that the government had put a number of measures in place to support outward investments by local companies, including the relaxation of cross-border financial regulations and tax requirements.

Noting that similar measures applied to foreign companies wanting to invest in African countries using South Africa as their base, Zuma said the South African Reserve Bank had over the last few years approved nearly a thousand “large investments” into 36 African countries.

Tuesday’s forum, hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry, coincided with the state visit of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and also preceded Wednesday’s opening of the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting in Cape Town.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jonathan and Zuma held talks in Cape Town, after which Nigeria and South Africa signed a raft of cooperation agreements.

Jonathan, also addressing the business forum, said it was imperative for Africa’s two biggest economies to work together for the advancement of the continent.

Zuma echoed this, saying South Africa and Nigeria needed “to work together and complement each other, to push an African agenda which puts regional economic integration, economic and infrastructural development at the forefront.

“Already, the economic linkages are encouraging,” Zuma said, with over 100 South African companies currently doing business in Nigeria, and a number of Nigerian companies having shown “keen interest” in investing in South Africa.

The two countries set up a bi-national commission in 1999, at the same time signing a bilateral trade agreement and a promotion and protection of investment agreement.

Zuma told the forum that Jonathan’s visit, and the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting, both came at a time when the outlook for the continent was highly positive.

“Over the last decade, six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies were in Africa,” Zuma said, and sub-Saharan Africa, with an expected annual growth of five percent, was projected to continue its move from a developing region to a hub of global growth.

The process of establishing a continental free trade area – bringing together the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Southern African Development Community and the East African Community – “should encourage the business sector to look even more favourably within the continent for investments”, Zuma said.

“This will be Africa’s biggest free trade bloc, with a single continent-wide market estimated to be worth a trillion US dollars. The 26 African countries involved have an aggregate GDP of $860-billion and a combined population of 600 million people.”

South Africa and Nigeria had to ensure that their economic success “contributes visibly to the ultimate goal of a successful and prosperous continent,” Zuma said.

“As the business community in the two countries, you have our full support. We urge you to invest in the continent, and more directly, in South Africa and Nigeria, and boost African growth and development while obtaining returns on your investment.”

SAinfo reporter