Address by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa H.E. Jacob Zuma to the Angolan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and South African Business Community in Angola, Luanda, 25 August 2004

Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Distinguished members of the Angolan Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
The South African Ambassador to the Republic of Angola,
South African entrepreneurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are deeply honoured that you responded to our call for us to meet in order to discuss how we can deepen and strengthen our fraternal economic relations.

It was important to us that we do not conclude our visit to this beautiful sister country without meeting with the business community. It is our humble opinion that the success of our bilateral relations would be greatly enhanced when you, the business community, the engine of economic growth, take your rightful place in boosting these relations.

In one of its thought provoking studies, the World Bank asks this controversial question: "Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?" It went on to make this disturbing observation about countries south of the Sahara "Despite gains in the second half of the 1990s, Sub-Saharan Africa enters the 21st century with many of the world's poorest countries. Average per capita income is lower than the end of the 1960's. Incomes, assets, and access to essential services are unequally distributed. And the region contains a growing share of the world's absolute poor".

This state of affairs requires swift remedial action from all of us, politicians and business people. The issue we need to ponder is how to effectively respond to the continued re-configuration of the global economy which keeps the welfare of Africa at the periphery. All modern political and economic thoughts are agreed that the private sector has a critical role to play in ensuring the growth of our economies, thereby creating gainful employment that would contribute to the eradication of against poverty.

The end of the conflict that had engulfed Angola, and the dawn of freedom in South Africa, affords us the opportunity to take active and sustained remedial measures to improve economic activity between the two countries.

The trade figures indicate that our mutual trade has grown phenomenally over the last three years. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Angola has a huge potential to emerge as one of the real economic giants in our sub-region and the continent. Accordingly, it is important that we act together as partners to stimulate this growth.

The Angolan Government has already introduced to us, projects that will contribute enormously to the economic growth of this country. Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit the Port of Lobito, Benguela Railway and SONAMET in Benguela Province. My delegation and I were left in no doubt that there are business opportunities for our private sector to invest within the Lobito Corridor.

It is also important to note that the Lobito Corrido, given its location and the linkages with other countries in the region through the railway network, dovetails very well with NEPAD, which stresses infrastructure development.

There are also various other possible areas of co-operation. As we all know, Angola has the most fertile lands in the region and agricultural potential is boundless, while South Africa offers a thriving commercial farming sector. Undoubtedly, this is one area where partnership which can benefit both countries could be explored.

Tourism is another area that offers possibilities for joint ventures and partnerships. In addition, major projects such as infrastructure reconstruction, water supply projects, construction and housing projects, public works projects, rehabilitation of transport infrastructure must be leveraged to benefit the private sectors of both countries. We believe that these projects could herald a new era for Angola, in the spirit of mutual benefit.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have also begun to engage intensively with our Angolan counterparts regarding the promotion of the concept of Spatial Development Initiatives following similar initiatives elsewhere.

The SDI will play a critical role in terms of post-conflict reconstruction and the attraction of investments. The cross-border nature of SDI projects boosts economic activity in a wider development zone, as it puts together development projects in a co-ordinated fashion in the identified countries.

We believe the SDI will catalyze regional growth and economic development. Undoubtedly, the SMME's will benefit if these projects are implemented.

Distinguished guests, as Africans we have adopted the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the socio-economic development blueprint of the African Union.

We have said in the preamble of this programme that the resources, including capital, technology and human skills, that are required to launch a global war on poverty exist in abundance, and that what we need to realize our objectives is bold and committed leadership.

We have therefore committed ourselves to good leadership through the implementation of good economic and political governance through the NEPAD programme. This we have done because we believe that democracy and good governance are fundamental to the regeneration of our continent. Angola is one of the countries that are playing a pioneering role in realizing the NEPAD objectives.

Most importantly, ladies and gentlemen, NEPAD has moved beyond planning to implementation. There are a number of projects in progress such as the oil pipeline in the Gulf of Guinea between West African countries and the optic cable network from Cape Town to Europe linking countries in West Africa.

This would be coupled with the Cape Town to Asia optic fibre connection linking up the East African countries. Close by, the Inga dam electricity generation project is taking shape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which upon completion should benefit the DRC, Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

These are some of the opportunities presented by NEPAD which I hope the Angolan business community would want to be involved in. There are exciting times ahead for the business community not only in our two countries but in the entire African continent.

Having called for more economic activity between our two countries, let me also use this opportunity to urge South African entrepreneurs who are doing business in Angola to do so with an added objective of helping to rebuild this country which has been destroyed by the ravages of war.

In doing so, you will be contributing to the development of the region and continent. Therefore issues such as skills and technology transfer and general contribution to the social development of the country would enhance reconstruction and development agenda of this country, region and continent.

Ladies and gentlemen, when we began this address, we quoted the report of the World Bank, which asked whether or not Africa could Claim the 21st Century as its own.

We hope we have attempted to show that the continent is not engulfed by the deep dark despair and hopelessness but rather, it is hard at work to change the perception that is ingrained in the mind of others.

The good news for the African business community is that African leaders, through the African Union and its programmes, are agreed that creating an enabling environment for economic growth and sustainable development in the continent is crucial.

That is why Africa is undertaking more effective programmes to eradicate conflicts, bring about democracy and introduce monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance, such as the African peer review mechanism.

We continue to be steadfast in our commitment to rise to the challenge of claiming this century as our own.

As anywhere, we would suffer temporary setbacks, but we are on the unstoppable march to a better tomorrow, and we invite the business community to accompany us on this journey.

I thank you.

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