ADDRESS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT ZUMA AT
THE 2nd AFRICA-ASIA BUSINESS FORUM
His Majesty the King,
The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal,
The Executive Mayor of the Durban Unicity
The representatives of the United Nations Development
Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
I have great pleasure in welcoming you all to the Second
Africa-Asia Business Forum. Allow me to extend a special
welcome, particularly to delegates from other parts
of the continent and Asia. I hope that you will enjoy
your stay in our beautiful country.
Chairperson, South Africa is indeed honoured to be
hosting this Forum, as we know that its objectives impact
far beyond the mandate of building strong business links
between our two continents. In addition to contributing
to efforts of strengthening economic relations between
Africa and Asia, the Forum provides another avenue for
further deepening South-South ties.
The importance of this Forum also lies in the fact
that it produces results, judging by the achievements
of the inaugural meeting, which took place in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1999. It brought together two hundred
and thirty African and Asian business executives to
negotiate deals. Preliminary results indicate that from
the twenty-seven memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that
were disclosed, four of them totaled 24.5 million US
dollars. It is estimated that the total value of the
MOUs will exceed one hundred million US dollars.
At the same time, the benefits of the first Forum also
went beyond the number of agreements entered into, as
the very fact that it took place was in itself an achievement.
It was able to bring together business executives from
the two regions and introduced a formal structure at
which they can engage each other and boost economic
activity between the two continents.
Chairperson, we believe that it is important to use
every available avenue to boost South-South linkages
and promote stronger relationships among developing
countries. Our view is that countries in the South need
to work together to be able to take advantage of the
opportunities that globalisation offers, while minimizing
Globalisation has brought about a need for the changing
of the rules and the manner of doing business, as the
world and economic arena has changed drastically. Nation
states throughout the world are seeking innovative ways
and means of dealing with the pressures of the new borderless
Globalisation has led to increasing integration of
national economies due to the information technology
and telecommunication revolution, the deregulation of
financial markets and the liberalization of trade. The
IT revolution has boosted electronic commerce, making
it possible for capital to move beyond borders at the
touch of a button.
It is encouraging to hear of the amazing success stories
within the South, where some countries, such as India,
have been able to leapfrog and become key players in
the world information economy. Such developments provide
opportunities for South-South co-operation in the information
communication technology arena. It also indicates that
there is a lot we can learn from each other through
sharing experiences, and through forming sound business
partnerships. This collaboration is crucial given that
the South is poised for growth during this century.
The abundance of strategic minerals within the developing
world, coupled with the information technology development
successes and the size of the combined markets can only
make the South a hub of economic activity if we do things
right and take full advantage of the opportunities.
A Forum such as this one is therefore important to
ensure that we do not lose out on economic opportunities,
particularly given the fact that at a political level,
leaders in the African continent have taken resolutions
to correct social, economic and political imbalances
and also participate fully in information technology
The co-operation between political leaders and the
private sector will be of assistance in the struggle
to create a better life for the people of the South,
through utilizing technology for social and economic
As we are all aware, our two continents are faced by
serious developmental challenges, such as the need to
eradicate poverty. According to statistics from the
World Trade Organisation, 304 million Africans survive
on only one US dollar per day, while nine out of 10
Africans in rural areas on the continent live in abject
While we are aware that technology is not the solution
to all problems, we see value in utilizing it to achieve
developmental goals, for example rural development.
The use of technology can improve lives through, for
example, accelerating community access to water, to
widen the reach of electricity distribution, improve
literacy through tele-education or save lives through
telemedicine. These developments are bound to have spillover
effects and would no doubt create a thriving rural economy
Th potential of technologies to generate wealth also
needs to be strongly focused on. Budding entrepreneurs
have to be nurtured through exposing them to means of
financial and information access.
I am stressing this point as we regard the Africa-Asia
Business Forum, as an important vehicle for discussing
ways and means in which the two continents can co-operate
on exploiting technological advantages for the benefit
of all our peoples and also boost economic partnerships.
This could also help enhance political efforts that
are being undertaken.
Chairperson, we feel confident to focus on discussing
partnerships for development, as the African continent
is going through its best period ever. Granted, there
are still problems in some parts of Africa relating
to lack of peace and stability. However, there is a
reason for optimism given that there is currently a
new generation of leaders who are keen to turn the situation
around and make the 21st century an African century.
As we speak, the Organization of African Unity is meeting
in Lusaka, Zambia and the gathering is expected to take
decisions that will take this continent a step forward
in its journey towards unity and recovery.
Also in this meeting, the new programme for the recovery
of the African continent will be tabled for discussion
and adoption. The programme is based on the determination
of Africans to extricate the continent from exclusion
by the developed world in this era of globalisation.
Some of the key elements of the Programme are: -
Peace, security and good governance.
Working towards sustainable economic development through
attracting investment, and reducing risks, real or perceived,
and improve access to markets of developed countries.
Developing information and communication technologies.
Addressing of the debt question as a necessary condition
for Africa to end poverty and underdevelopment.
Facing the challenge of developing and improving the
financial systems of all our countries.
Urgently addressing the problem of communicable diseases
in the continent, including tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
It is indeed a bold plan, and one that should succeed
because Africans themselves are driving it. We believe
the time has come for the developed world to treat Africa
and the rest of the developing world as equal business
partners rather than recipients of development aid and
The proof of the commitment of the African leadership
can also be seen in the stance taken by the OAU not
to recognize leaders who come into power through military
and unconstitutional means, which had become the scourge
of this continent for decades since decolonisation.
As Africans we should also be concerned about how much
we respect the constitution as the basic law of any
land and not be quick to change it to suit our own interests.
The African continent is clearly on a path of revival,
Chairperson, and we would like to invite members of
this Forum to become our partners in this journey, as
we seek to make our continent a strong and viable region
to conduct business in.
We invite you as businesspeople to be frank and honest,
and point out shortcomings that you may notice in the
manner in which we govern, and as leaders, we need to
be open to that kind of approach for you may see mistakes
that we are not aware of. Distinguished delegates, once
again, let me stress that the
South African Government is indeed honoured and privileged
to be associated with this Forum, and to be hosting
you this week. We sincerely hope that this meeting will
indeed deepen co-operation.
I wish you well in your deliberations and business
I also hope that our visitors will make time to explore
our beautiful country to discover the abundant business
opportunities, the breath-taking scenery, golden beaches
and our world famous game parks.
I thank you.