Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma
to the Benin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cotonou,
Republic of Benin, 12 August 2004
Distinguished Members of the Benin
Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
His Excellency Chief Gwadiso, the South African Ambassador
To Benin and Cote d'Ivoire,
Thank you for the opportunity to interact with eminent
members of this Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It is important to us that we obtained this opportunity
to meet with you, during our visit to this beautiful
and hospitable sister country.
We feel at home in Benin, and correctly so, given the
warm nature of relations between our two countries.
We trust that our visit will serve to further concretise
these relations at all levels.
Brother and sisters, our country has reached an important
milestone this year, with the celebration of 10 years
of freedom and democracy. Allow me this opportunity
therefore to express our sincere appreciation for the
support extended by Benin and its people to our liberation
struggle. The Victory over apartheid is a victory of
the whole of Africa, and in which Benin played a significant
Earlier today, we had the privilege of meeting with
President Kerekou, and our wide-ranging discussions
confirmed the determination of the two countries to
work together not only in further deepening bilateral
relations, but in promoting the regeneration of our
continent, and working for a better world.
The President stressed the importance of economic and
development co-operation between our two countries and
we are in full agreement in this regard.
In addition to the sound political relations, there
are many opportunities of co-operation between our respective
business sectors, within the context of the New Partnership
for Africa's Development, (NEPAD).
Africa is faced with the challenges of fighting poverty
through promoting self-reliant and sustainable development.
Within the NEPAD framework, we are aware of the need
to create the right political and social conditions
for this to take place. This includes consolidating
democracy as well as good political and economic governance,
and to accelerate the efforts of resolving conflicts
and supporting peace operations.
With regards to conflict resolution, you would be aware
that the African Union and regional organisations are
doing all they can to restore peace and stability and
put an end to the suffering and loss of life in affected
parts of the continent.
The peace efforts in Dafur, Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi,
Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of the
continent indicate the seriousness with which the resolution
of conflicts is being taken by continental leadership.
The recent establishment of the Peace and Security
Council by the African Union has greatly enhanced Africa's
capacity to address its security challenges, to bring
about conditions that are conducive to promoting democracy,
respect for human rights and sustainable development.
Ladies and gentlemen, the African business sector cannot
be bystanders in these efforts. We urge you to partner
with us in rebuilding the continent. We urge the African
business sector to play its part in promoting economic
growth and development.
Some of the priority sectors for development, within
the NEPAD context, include:
- Agriculture and food security,
- Infrastructure development,
- Health, education and human resource development,
- Science and technology,
- Mining and tourism.
Paying attention to these areas will assist the continent
to respond to the challenges of unemployment, under-development
and lack of economic diversification.
I am confident that NEPAD as an instrument embodies
your own aspirations for economic well-being and development
as the Benin Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Let me emphasise ladies and gentlemen, that the private
sector is the key to assisting Africa to attain self-reliant
development. The public sector on its own would not
generate enough resources for this monumental challenge.
That is why priority is given to creating conducive
conditions for the development of the private sector.
We need a strong African business sector that can meet
the challenges of building a new Africa.
The strategy for strengthening the African private
sector is being developed in co-operation with the NEPAD
This includes the strengthening of the co-ordination
of national, regional and continental small, medium
and micro-sized enterprises. It is envisaged that African
small and medium enterprise will play a role in infrastructure
development projects and other initiatives, hence the
mobilisation of financial support from development partners
in the North, as well as from multilateral international
Distinguished guests, as I stated in the beginning,
the aim of my visit is also to lend further impetus
to the deepening relations between South Africa and
The Co-operation Agreement signed last year effectively
launched this co-operation and enhanced our constructive
We are looking forward to improving the existing economic
relations between our two countries, and from our discussions
earlier today with President Kerekou, our two countries
have a clear vision of how we can take this co-operation
forward. The areas of transport and infrastructure development,
tourism, food processing systems, as well as information
and communication technology, are but a few sectors
in which Benin and South Africa can co-operate.
While South Africa may offer expertise in the above-mentioned
areas, Benin has a wide range of products that South
Africa may need, such as cotton, cement and agricultural
products. Together we can therefore find concrete projects
to cooperate on for mutual benefit.
In conclusion, may I once again thank you for the honour
accorded to me to share with you part of our vision
for a better future, as we build a prosperous and peaceful
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
12 Aug 2004