Address at the University Of Hong Kong,
12 December 2001
Professor Davis, Vice Chancellor of the University
of Hong Kong,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am very happy to have the opportunity, once more,
to visit Hong Kong and in particular to speak at this
University. I bring to you warm greetings from the government
and people of South Africa.
I am told that this university is one of China's pre-eminent
institutions for higher education in management, economics
and engineering technology and it is therefore an honour
to be here today.
We are here as part of our engagements and consolidation
of political, economic and social relations with the
people of China, both in the mainland and here in the
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Historians have noted, in voluminous texts, ancient
relations between the peoples of Africa and Asia. These
close relations, of trade, diplomacy, social and cultural,
took place over hundreds of years and were based on
integrity, mutual benefit, friendship and solidarity.
The relations between the peoples of Africa and the
Western world have not always been based on similar
For centuries, the Western world treated Africa as
a source of cheap labour and raw materials. Necessarily,
this has meant the export of wealth from Africa, rather
than its expansion within the Continent.
In a very real sense, the enrichment of the West was
predicated on the impoverishment of Africa.
The post-colonial period has not changed this situation
Indeed, the diversion of resources away from wealth
creation accelerates in the post-colonial period, as
more resources are needed to finance the new state machinery
and to meet the pressing social needs of the people.
The net effect of all of this has been the entrenchment
of a downward vicious circle, confirming Africa's peripheral
and diminishing role in the world economy.
Despite this negative past, it is both possible and
necessary to ensure that Africa enjoys a positive and
The starting point is the same material base that resulted
in Africa becoming a marginalised Continent.
For its part, the African Continent has taken a decision
to organise itself such that democracy and respect for
human rights prevails; that there should exist systems
of governance, with the necessary capacity, to ensure
that the state is able to discharge its responsibilities
with regard to such matters as development, democracy
and popular participation, and to elaborate appropriate
responses to the process of globalisation.
In this regard, the leadership and the people of Africa
have embarked on an important process of the regeneration
of the Continent.
In July this year, African governments adopted the
New Partnership for Africa's Development, a far reaching
and composite plan to give meaning and content to their
It is in this context that I will speak to you about
both the African continent and South Africa.
And I am happy that I am going to speak to you, not
about the ravages of drought and famine, nor about the
devastating intensities of conflicts and wars; neither
of the plagues of locusts that consume everything growing,
down to the roots; nor will we discuss debilitating
diseases. Clearly, we will not discuss aid or charity.
Rather, we will talk about partnership.
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
has been formulated as a programme through which Africans
have pledged to pull their countries and continent out
of the morass of poverty and underdevelopment.
In formulating this New Partnership, the leadership
and people of the continent were alive to the fact that
there have been many initiatives in the past, yet these
efforts were unsuccessful due to a combination of factors,
including political, social and economic instabilities
as well as the fact that Africans were spectators rather
than active participants in most of the initiatives.
Accordingly, the New Partnership is based on a resolve
by Africans to work together for everlasting peace,
stability and security, and, to rescue forever the ordinary
people from the brutalities and indecencies of wars
In this regard, it has been resolved to strengthen
conflict prevention mechanisms, management and resolution
of conflicts both at the regional and continental levels.
The New Partnership will also develop clear standards
of accountability, transparency and participatory governance
to ensure that the mass the people on the continent
are not bystanders in the process in which they should
and must be leading participants.
This New Partnership is driven by the desire on the
part of the African people to ensure that democracy
takes root in every corner of the continent, that military
and undemocratic autocracies become the things of the
past and that the mass of the people are, themselves,
active agents of change.
Already, the number of democratically elected governments
has been on the increase since the last decade of the
last century, and accordingly many people on the continent
have been empowered to assist in the entrenchment of
the democratic processes and structures.
Having arrived at the correct position that sound economic
policies are a catalyst to development, the people on
the continent have resolved that there will be clear
processes of restoring and maintaining macroeconomic
stability, including working on such important economic
elements as fiscal and monetary policies and setting
up the necessary institutional frameworks.
This will be done in practical and concrete ways. For
instance, we are starting with a project to improve
the basic statistics that inform policy choices.
Further, as part of a process of ensuring that none
amongst the peoples on the continent are ever marginalised,
significant strides have been made towards the promotion
of the role of women in political, social and economic
The new Partnership stresses that the important aspect
of the renewal of the continent is the building of the
much-needed infrastructure in telecommunications and
transport to support manufacturing, agro-businesses,
and social development.
Most of you will not know that within a year or two
the basic spine of an electricity grid will stretch
from Cape Town to Algiers increasing access to electricity
for millions of people across the length of the continent.
The New Partnership seeks to promote the diversification
of production and ensure that there is a clear process
of capacity building and the generation of expertise
while striving for a fair and equitable trading system
that ensures market access to all, especially to developing
For all these and many other measures to bear fruit,
we have set up structures and mechanisms of the New
Partnership for Africa's Development with a secretariat
based in South Africa, which is overseen by a Presidential
Implementation Committee of 15 countries, three each
from the different regions on the continent.
This New Partnership for Africa's Development is a
clear voice by the Africans that we no longer seek either
dependency or marginal concessions, but require committed
partners that will work together with Africans for mutual
Of importance, from next year, is that the Organisation
of African Unity (OAU) will be transformed into a new
structure, the African Union, which is a body with a
new resolve to deal with conflicts and censure deviation
from the norm.
As we have indicated, the positive signs are already
there with more and more economies on the right track
and an increasing number of people participating in
This can only mean a better environment for potential
investors and those who wish to do business on the African
continent. Both the people and the leadership on the
continent are making a call for partnerships that should
ensure that together we move towards a desired situation,
where we no longer have pockets of affluence amidst
global poverty and underdevelopment.
This important gathering here in Hong Kong is such
a critical body of people that I am confident will respond
positively to this call.
We recognise the special role of Hong Kong within China
and your important strategic place in the linkages between
Africa and Asia.
Further, because of the history of this country, which
has seen China going through its own processes of transformation
leading to political and economic stability, it is clear
that you understand our own challenges in this regard.
I am therefore confident that the consolidation of
our relations as happened at the Sino-Africa conference
in 2000, will be invaluable for the realisation of our
vision of African renewal.
As far as South Africa is concerned, there has been
increased trade between our country and China. Our exports
to this area include amongst others, primary products
like precious and semi-precious stones, agriculture
and fishing products, manufactured products such as
vehicles, engines and steels of many types. From Hong
Kong we import products such as sporting goods, telecommunication
equipment, radios and travel goods.
Such is the significance of our trading relations that
we have a number of South African companies that maintain
offices here, resulting in the formation of the South
African Business Forum in 1997. I am informed that this
organization acts as a coordinating body between the
different business entities and has an impressive number
Since 1994, we have made significant strides in terms
of macroeconomic policy and prudent fiscal management
of the economy. We have successfully transformed the
South African economy from an inward looking to an internationally
competitive, open trading system.
In addition, we have built a strong, resilient economy,
with lower tax rates and higher revenue, improved savings
and increased potential for counter-cyclical fiscal
policy. In the past few years we have ensured an impressive
decline in inflation from double to single digit.
Our export competitiveness has improved and our current
account performance is strong. Investment has improved
in both public and private sectors, particularly in
the public corporations, manufacturing and financial
South Africa's external position is strong. We have
eliminated a major foreign currency exposure inherited
from the past; our foreign borrowings are relatively
low and have been done at very competitive rates. This
strength and the capacities of our financial markets
have led to the rand being a highly traded currency.
With uncertainty in the world markets, this trade has
led to volatility in our exchange rate. Ironically,
this arises from our strength and not our weaknesses.
However, our strong export capacity and increasingly
attractive equity portfolio mean that there is an underlying
stability in our external transactions.
Given this impressive economic performance, Moody's
rating agency has improved the country's rating.
Furthermore, while we have retained our status as a
country rich in minerals, and for many years our economy
was based mainly on mineral resources, we have today,
developed one of the most diversified emerging economies
in the world.
This is illustrated by the composition of our exports.
Almost one-third of these are a wide range of manufactured
products, ranging from automobiles, through avionic
equipment to sophisticated chemicals. Another third
is metals, from stainless steel to platinum and soon
titanium. The final third are our better-known gold,
diamonds and virtually all other known minerals.
We supply products to leading multinational companies
such as Daimler Chrysler, Boeing and Rolls Royce.
We have one of the most cost effective energy systems
in the world and gas from Namibia and Mozambique in
2005 will make South Africa one of the most energy abundant
economies in the world.
Our state-owned energy company, ESKOM has an elaborate
programme of providing energy in many parts of Africa
- in the east, west and north of the continent. Because
of their important work, both in South Africa and on
the continent, last Thursday, in New York, ESKOM, won
the Financial Times energy company of the year award.
We have an advanced Telecommunications industry that
is increasingly addressing both domestic and continental
challenges. There are challenges also in the area of
transport infrastructure, including the enormous needs
around road, rail, port and other related infrastructure.
In addition, our hospitality and tourism industries
are ever growing and present limitless opportunities.
Once again, we extend our sincere gratitude to the government
of the Peoples Republic of China for granting South
Africa Approved Tourists Destination Status.
We offer tremendous investment opportunities in the
areas of agri-business, food and beverages as well as
in the clothing, textile, marine and biotechnology industries.
Furthermore, we have a free trade agreement with the
countries in the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), which offers a market of approximately 200 million
We have negotiated a free trade agreement with the
European Union and market access agreements are being
negotiated with Mercosur and EFTA. Early in the new
year, we will commence with exploratory talks with China
on this same matter.
South Africa is also a beneficiary under the terms
of the United States' Africa Growth and Opportunities
Act (AGOA). This allows for duty free and quota free
access of, amongst others, textile and clothing exports
to the USA.
Of importance, South Africa together with China can
and should forge strong South-South links to ensure
that the New Partnership for Africa's Development succeeds.
I am confident that our mutual partnership and solidarity
in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid have
set solid basis for designing and constructing a new
path in Africa's long journey towards development and
We have to ensure that China's economic progress is
also Africa's advancement away from economic marginalisation.
We must make it a point that Africa's development is
equally China's victory against poverty.
We face the myriad of modern challenges in a world
characterized by economic and technological processes
that are moving at a very extraordinary and unparalleled
rapid pace. Each year there are constant and unprecedented
expansions of the resources that can be, if we so choose,
used to tackle, decisively, the current challenges of
underdevelopment and poverty.
Everyday we read statistics, which indicate the numbers
and percentages of people who die or barely survive
because of poverty, underdevelopment and disease. These
statistics also show us the discrepancies of the distribution
of resources, and even how we can together change the
life circumstances of billions of people throughout
Yet, these statistics are cold, have no feeling, and
therefore cannot even begin to relate to us the reality
of the children's pangs of hunger, and the hopeless
emptiness of those who have no means to eke out a living.
We have feelings and can relate to these realities.
Through the New Partnership for Africa's Development
we say, together let us engage to change these conditions
and do so not as charity, but as part of a process that
is of mutual benefit to all parties.
But we need to engage with one another for many other
reasons, which will be of mutual benefit to our two
Though we are products of different countries and continents,
divided by oceans and separate time-zones, we have,
nonetheless, stood together for the betterment of all
Of particular importance is the fact that China has
resolutely marched side by side with the people of Africa
even when many of our countries had attained independence
and were waging new struggles against underdevelopment
and poverty. We meet here today still engaged in these
struggles against hunger, disease, degradation and marginalisation.
I believe that we have to increase our collaboration
in this regard. Both our common and diverse experiences
in having to deal with underdevelopment and our respective
locations in Asia and Africa suggest that an exchange
of ideas will be useful, offer each of us insights in
what ought to be done and demand of us unflinchingly
to come up with solutions to the problems of the people
of our country.
After centuries of conflict born out of colonialism
and apartheid, and out of racist ideology through which
one section of the population imposed their will upon
others resulting in loss of lives and entrapment of
black people in conditions of poverty, backwardness
and underdevelopment, South Africans have won the battle
for equality amongst different peoples.
Thus have we embarked on a journey towards a truly
non-racial and non-sexist society fully conscious that
we have no choice but to accept the multi-facetedness
of who we are, of the West marrying the East, of Africa
being part of a modern world economy and building a
new worldview for a new world order in which our various
yet interconnected identities must serve to strengthen
our roles in ensuring prosperity for all our people.
As we meet here in China, first in Beijing, then in
Shanghai and finally now in Hong Kong, we are struck
by the similarities of the tasks that lie ahead for
each of us, although on different scales. These similarities,
in addition to the friendships that exist between our
two countries suggest an affinity for each other, a
common consciousness of the road ahead and a genuine
sincerity and concern for the other that belongs to
close family relations rather than mere friends.
As we leave here today, we shall be taking part of
you with us, as we believe you too shall retain something
of us. The vast distance of an ocean may divide us,
but our state visit here has created a deeper and long-lasting
unity that will bode each and both of us well in the
We ask you to look at South Africa, above all, as a
place of opportunities to visit, to do business with,
to develop, as indeed we ask this of you for the entire
continent of Africa.
In turn, we consider the challenges of China in the
same way and are eager to encourage more business people
to visit and to stay so as to become part of the development
of the Chinese economy into a massive giant of the 21st
Century. We give our commitment to this mutual process
of working together for China, for South Africa, for
Africa and the developing world.
I urge you all in whatever ways possible to contribute
to this new history and shape our new reality together.
I thank you.