Address by the President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the 3rd IBSA Summit Dialogue Forum, New Delhi, India on Connectivity through Transport.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008.
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
Your Excellency, President Lula da Silva,
Excellencies: Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I want to thank our host, His Excellency Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Government and the people of India for having made it possible for all of us to meet in New Delhi for the Third Summit of the IBSA Dialogue Forum.
Further, I would like to express my gratitude to former President Thabo Mbeki, for ensuring that South Africa has played its role fully in the formation and consolidation of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum and South-South Co-operation generally.
This morning, we opened the IBSA Summit and deliberated on many issues that face our three partner-countries, the South and the world at large.
Running like a golden thread through the enriching exchange was the realisation that we can determine our own destiny.
Working together with other countries of the South, and making our voices heard in the global councils that shape world affairs, we have it in our power to ensure that the interests of the poor and the marginalised are heard and are heeded.
The global balance impels us to pay attention to the thoughts and actions of the powerful. What happens elsewhere, particularly in the developed world has a profound impact on our own countries. Events in the last weeks have demonstrated this reality yet again. We all have to avert the negative impact of the global markets on our own societies.
No longer do we need to operate as mere spectators. We shall be heard. We must contribute to shaping the discourse. We need to plan our actions.
Connectivity has become the currency of Globalisation. The need for ever greater connectivity has driven the ICT revolution. Information has become power, and connectivity has become the key to human development.
India, Brazil and South Africa, among the many challenges we face, must grasp the challenge of improving the lives of our people through ensuring that we maximise the benefits that come with connectivity.
The strategic location of each of our countries in the geography of the world economy allows us almost immediately to work together on one critical dimension of this connectivity: Transport.
How do we utilise our strategic locations through transport to pursue our goals? We have laid some foundations that are unheralded which, if further developed and implemented, could result in a strategic partnership answering to the fortune of our geographies.
CONNECTIVITY THROUGH TRANSPORT
The Trilateral Aviation and Maritime Agreements and the New Delhi Programme of Action (POA) are meant to inform our response to the opportunities of connectivity through transport.
I believe that fostering excellent tri-lateral co-operation on transport networks should spur us towards a quantum leap in pursuit of the targets set for 2010.
At the core of these objectives should be a massive improvement in trilateral trade, other relations and a qualitative change in our facilitation of South-South co-operation. Our tri-lateral co-operation in the transport interconnectivity system should balance the needs of our respective economies, the environment and society.
As agreed, such cooperation should be based on the following strategic objectives:
- promotion of economic co-operation;
- promotion of trade and investment;
- promotion of co-operation in the transportation of goods and people;
- promotion of investments in infrastructure for Transport Connectivity; and
- promotion of poverty alleviation and job creation.
Infrastructure development is critical for both economic growth and social development. Any strategy therefore should incorporate the development of roads, highways, airports, harbours, railways, waterways and telecommunication facilities among IBSA Partners as facilitators of our quest to improve the human condition.
Our Co-operation Agreements aim substantially to increase investment in building, upgrading and maintaining transport infrastructure in our respective countries and other developing countries.
Critical in this regard is the special emphasis on developing training institutions which can produce highly-skilled technicians and engineers in all infrastructure sectors.
IBSA’s STRATEGIC VALUE
Such a programme to ensure our connectivity through transport is absolutely important given that our three countries represent a market worth more than two trillion US dollars; that in 2005 our trilateral co-operation placed us among the top 15 developing countries in the world; and that the combined value of our trade more than tripled between 1994 and 2004.
The IBSA trilateral co-operation today represents to the world a “new trade geography” in which each of our countries uses the other two as gateways for intensifying intercontinental trade and investment links.
For us to ensure the possibility of exponential growth we have to enhance our transport connectivity. This will allow us to surpass the IBSA ministers’ target of US$ 15 billion worth of tri-lateral trade by 2010.
Connectivity through transport will be crucial to overcome constraints that may be contributory factors to a 3,6% decline in trade growth among IBSA countries between 2005 and 2006.
The Government of the Republic of South Africa through its State Owned Enterprises has embarked on massive infrastructure development projects across various sectors.
This, we believe responds to Agreements we have reached; and will receive further impetus from Action Plans we will sign at this 3rd IBSA Summit.
Key interventions identified in our agreements and plans include:
- the development of a Maritime Corridor;
- increased airline frequencies between our countries;
- infrastructure development; and
- skills development.
For IBSA to deliver on a Maritime Corridor, the respective Governments must commit resources to either the construction and development of new ports and port infrastructure or improving existing port infrastructure so as deliver capacity ahead of demand.
Needless to say, combined with this should be efficient management of these facilities, for them to deliver smart service.
In Maritime infrastructure, the South African Government has committed the following investment programme:
- construction of the deep sea-port of Nqgurha, commonly known as Coega, as our intended transhipment hub linking our three continents; and
- upgrading of the busiest Container Terminal on the African continent, the Durban Container Terminal.
On the Aviation side, we are heartened by the fact that teams from our countries have now signed both Bilateral and Trilateral Air Services Agreements.
We are confident that this will contribute to increased frequencies in our air transport to enable ease of movement of people leading to South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the hosting of the Commonwealth Games in India in 2010 as well as the hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
We cite these examples to illustrate the possibilities that await the implementation of our Agreements. They are not free of challenges. Therefore, our partnership means that we must apply ourselves deliberately and systematically to our interventions.
We can create a maritime highway in the Indian and South Atlantic oceans. Collectively we can create aviation hubs linking our three countries, and other countries of the South. We can use connectivity through transport as the vehicle for trade and economic growth. We can bring development and progress to our people.
South Africa, has a pivotal role given our geographic location. Today we reiterate that we are committed to revolutionising connectivity through transport. I know that collectively we shall meet and surpass our commitments.
I Thank You.