Address by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma at the South Africa-Zambia Business Forum during the State Visit by His Excellency President Rupiah Banda of Zambia, 03 December 2010
Our Esteemed Guests, His Excellency, President Banda and Mrs Banda;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers here present;
Leaders of Business Associations;
Members of the Business Community;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let me start by thanking all the speakers who have just welcomed us to this important Business Forum.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We gather here this morning importantly to reaffirm the enduring bonds that bind Zambia and South Africa.
It was not long ago when many of us finally left Zambia to come back to our motherland, South Africa after having spent close to three decades in that beautiful country.
We talk of Zambia, a country that played host to all the liberation movements of our region. We talk of Zambia that generously shared her meagre resources to support the cause of freedom and justice in the Southern African region.
We talk of Zambia whose economy was greatly sabotaged with a view to discourage the country from supporting her fellow Africans who at the time were toiling under the yoke of colonialism and apartheid.
Ladies and the gentlemen,
These are the bonds that bind us. It is therefore an honour and privilege for me to address this august Business Forum that brings together the distinguished business leaders from our two countries to share business opportunities available in our respective countries.
I believe therefore that this Forum provides a platform to make a difference to the economic integration and development of our countries, the region and the continent.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
We have observed that over the recent past, the economic cooperation between South Africa and Zambia has grown exceedingly well.
We have not only seen trade volumes increasing but also seen encouraging investments from South Africa into the Zambian economy.
These investments are no longer concentrated in the traditional so-called “old economy” that is mining, retail and related industries, but we are seeing a great shift to what some call the “new economy” – financial services, information communication technology, agribusiness, leisure and others.
As a consequence, Zambia is now one of South Africa’s top ten trading partners on the continent, in so doing surpassing countries which traditionally used to attract huge investments from our country.
Zambia has been able to attract these investments thanks to its conducive regulatory framework and legislative environment, making the country a model for doing business.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Our countries are duty-bound and determined to champion and play a central and leading role in the regional and continental infrastructure development within the context of NEPAD, with particular emphasis on North-South Corridor, which traverses through Southern African Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
This North-South Corridor will, in sync with the regional integration efforts, facilitate trade and physical interconnectivity with high priority focus in the areas of mining, agriculture and tourism to the benefit of the peoples and economies of the Southern African countries.
In this regard, Zambia’s geo-strategic location is central to the success of these initiatives.
Zambia is an important country to unlock the regional spatial development initiatives and infrastructure projects in the region.
It is therefore incumbent upon the private sector in both our countries to assist, leverage and benefit from these huge infrastructural development projects.
Enormous opportunities exist in the downstream development and beneficiation of Africa’s vast resources, as well as in the creation of the critical infrastructure in terms of roads, railways, ports and utilities.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let me conclude by thanking the private sector for its valued contribution to the economic cooperation between our two countries.
It is imperative for this gathering to identify any hindrances to doing business in our respective countries, perceived or otherwise.
As Governments, we can assure you that we will do everything possible to create an enabling environment for the private sector investments, ensuring that such investments do not only contribute to economic development, but also create sustainable employment.
We have a collective duty to ensure that our economic cooperation and partnership is deepened.
As said earlier, Zambia’s economy was sabotaged as a punishment for supporting freedom and justice.
Finally, we are all aware of the vantage point we find ourselves at to pull all efforts to develop our countries, our region and our continent.
Africa’s future beckons!
I wish you successful deliberations that will result in concrete projects that will benefit both peoples of both our countries.
I thank you.