Address by President Jacob Zuma during BIRCS Business Breakfast Session hosted by South Africa, Diwan I Am Taj Mahal Hotel, Delhi, India, 29 March 2012
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Captains of Industry from BRICS countries, distinguished Guests,
Good morning to you all.
I am happy to interact with you shortly before we begin the Summit of leaders of BRICS.
I look forward to a fruitful session today in the Leaders’ Summit, where we will focus on the important theme of BRICS partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity.
Compatriots and friends,
In South Africa, we have made the achievement of inclusive growth and prosperity our main goal as we move towards the second phase of our transition, following the defeat of colonial oppression and apartheid.
Our participation in BRICS is designed to help us achieve inclusive growth, sustainable development and a prosperous South Africa.
As some of you are aware, in our State of the Nation Address in February we identified the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality as requiring our single-minded attention.
We had, in 2010, launched our New Growth Path framework, to help us achieve inclusive growth and create jobs. We identified six jobs drivers to help us achieve the much needed growth leading to jobs.
These are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
In our State of the Nation Address in February, we publicly singled out infrastructure development as a key vehicle for improving the quality of life and of providing a more focused access to basic services, competitiveness and jobs.
We had begun working intensively on our infrastructure strategy in September last year, through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.
We singled out infrastructure because we know that the bedrock of new growth on the African Continent will come from economic integration and infrastructure development.
South Africa is on course to spend in excess of R860 billion on infrastructure by March 2014.
Our infrastructure drive is about providing housing, sanitation, public transport and running water in the urban areas for millions of South Africans who are urban residents.
It is about connecting rural communities to economic opportunities through building dams and irrigation systems, connecting farms and villages to the energy grid and building schools and clinics.
Our view is that cities should not be the only places with lights, roads or tap water.
Infrastructure is therefore at the heart of how we will change the lives of our people in the next decade. We have spent the last few weeks finalising implementation plans.
We will discuss these plans with all three spheres of government next month, so that we are all on the same page with regards to how to implement this massive programme.
We will also focus on education and skills development more sharply.
The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission is developing a Skills Plan for each major project, setting out the number of engineers, artisans, technicians and technologists we need.
Work is being done with universities and Further Education and Training Colleges to speed up the production of these critical skills.
We urge business to invest in skills development in their companies to promote youth training and empowerment.
And I invite you, as the business community of BRICS, to collaborate with us to explore these infrastructure opportunities.
Our state owned entities such as Industrial Development Corporation, Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Public Investment Commission and Transnet are gearing themselves to play a key role in the infrastructure programme.
Beyond the South African programme is the NEPAD infrastructure programme that we champion as mandated by the African Union, especially the North and South road and rail projects.
We have shared our programme with the leaders of BRICS in bilateral meetings and will do so again in the formal session today.
We are convinced that we can negotiate new types of mutually beneficial developmental agreements with BRICS countries on infrastructure development.
Already there are good signs within the group. We are in particular, excited by the plans for a new BRICS-led development Bank.
The Bank will reinforce the BRICS grouping by utilizing surplus reserves. It will also encourage investment in a more sustainable and productive manner for the financing of infrastructure. I look forward to deliberations later today on this innovative proposal.
Another crucial infrastructure project underway, requiring our collective involvement, is the proposed high capacity marine cable system linking the BRICS countries.
This would address the connectivity challenges which have featured as impediments to intra-BRICS trade.
In bilateral discussions with BRICS leaders yesterday we shared views on many possible areas of cooperation ranging from energy to construction and water provision and others. There is a lot that we can and will do together, to enhance inclusive economic growth and development.
South Africa and BRICS countries share a common vision.
Like South Africa, our fellow BRICS nations are striving to enhance inclusive economic growth that will lead to an increase in the creation of decent, sustainable jobs, advance the fight against poverty and accelerate the economic transformation with our countries.
We, as the South African government, pledge our commitment continuously engage business in South Africa and in our BRICS counterparts to forge stronger partnerships for development and progress.
I would like to invite you to visit South Africa during our 4th Annual Dialogue Conference focusing on Africa and business opportunities that are available in our country.
This conference will be hosted by our Department of Trade and Industry on the 10th and 11th of April at Sun City in the North West province.
I look forward to welcoming you to our shores and sincerely hope that we can continue enhancing our dialogue on key imperatives within BRICS, including our infrastructure development plan.
I wish you successful engagements on the sidelines of the BRICS Leaders Summit.
I thank you.