3 March 2011
President Jacob Zuma, addressing a business forum during his state visit to France on Thursday, invited French companies to explore South Africa’s economy and the vast opportunities that it has to offer investors.
Zuma said they should explore opportunities in infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the “green” economy and tourism, which have been identified as key job creation sectors in South Africa.
Over the next 10 years, the government is set to spend more than R846-billion on its infrastructure development programme and invest significantly in energy, transport, communications, water and social infrastructure such as housing.
“Our ultimate goal is to build a South Africa with decent employment opportunities, modern infrastructure, a vibrant economy and high quality of life,” Zuma said, adding that his administration wanted to work with the business sector both domestically and internationally to achieve this goal.
Exports to support manufacturing
Opening the South Africa-France business forum, Zuma said the government had instructed its teams to facilitate an increase in South African exports to help support the local manufacturing sector.
There are already over 170 French companies operating in South Africa, bringing total trade between the two countries to R32-billion in 2008. However, this had dropped to R23-billion in 2009 due to the global economic recession.
Zuma said the business sector should develop the capacity to engage systematically on policy issues, adding that long-term needs, opportunities and commitments had to be identified and targets set to measure progress toward sustainable development.
“Sustainable development can contribute to inclusive growth by opening new production opportunities, for instance, in generating green energy and supporting local and organic production.”
Partnerships for Africa
Zuma also encouraged the forum to explore mutual partnerships of opportunities for economic development and poverty alleviation in the African continent as a whole.
“You should also, in the deliberations of this forum, not lose sight of the fact that Africa is among the new pillars of economic growth, and offers a market of one billion consumers,” Zuma said.
In a recent survey, the continent’s growth potential was forecast to reach R7-trillion by 2020, with growth in consumer goods, infrastructure, mining and agriculture.
Globally, six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the period 2000 to 2010 were African countries.
South Africa is also the newest member of the BRICS, a group of fast-growing emerging economies including Brazil, Russia, China and India. Zuma said he would advance the African agenda and increased strategic cooperation among emerging market economies of the South in support of this agenda.
South Africa was also willing to work with France, which holds the presidency of the G20 until November, in safeguarding the post-recession recovery.
He said the G20 had to contribute to building the foundation for sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, and to making financial systems more risk-resilient.
“The G20 agenda must also address the need to rebuild a true partnership between governments and business.”