Toast Remarks by H.E. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, Cape Town International Convention Centre, 09 May 2013
Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
WEF Founder and Head, Professor Schwab
Good evening to you all!
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Mother City, Cape Town, on this very auspicious occasion of the World Economic Forum on Africa.
I am told that this is the first time that WEF has hosted so many Heads of State and Government in one sitting. We are deeply honoured by this attendance.
We are particularly humbled by this response, since only 19 years ago; South Africa was a pariah state with a system of governance that was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations.
We are pleased that in only two decades, our country is able to attract men and women of your calibre from around the world to its shores, to deliberate on matters of global economic growth and prosperity.
We are also welcoming you to our country just a few weeks after the 5th BRICS summit that was held in Durban, which also underscored Africa’s development partnership with the world.
In another critical milestone, on the 25th of May, we will be proudly celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity, later the African Union.
When we gather at our headquarters in Addis Ababa later this month, we will reflect on the progress made and the challenges.
We will also be thinking ahead to the Africa we want to see and live in, in the next 20, 30 and even 50 years.
In our own country, which is a proud component of this rising continent, we have produced the 20 year National Development Plan, which is our blueprint towards a prosperous society, and a society firmly on the route towards eradicating poverty and inequality.
Therefore, you are all in the right continent at the right time.
From what used to be called a hopeless continent, to what is now referred to as the rising continent due to its impressive growth rates, Africa is on the move.
We have the opportunity to define our own future as Africans and create the Africa we desire.
An Africa that is united, integrated and free from the scourge of poverty.
An Africa that has conducive conditions for trade and investment. An Africa that will enable the creation of sustainable and decent jobs for our people, particularly the youth.
An Africa that is industrialised and which is aligned with strategic like-minded partners. An Africa that can be competitive in the global market.
The next few days present an opportunity for all of us to engage frankly and openly about the growth prospects before us.
As development partners from around the world, we must be frank enough to share the bottlenecks, and jointly work towards unlocking them, moving forward. From the sessions that have taken place already, it promises to be a very successful WEF on Africa session.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we move towards the golden jubilee of the OAU, we draw inspiration from the very profound lyrics of the African Union Anthem.
It says the following:
Let us all unite and toil together
To give the best we have to Africa
The cradle of mankind and fount of culture
Our pride and hope at break of dawn.
O! Sons and Daughters of Africa
Flesh of the Sun and Flesh of the Sky
Let us make Africa the Tree of Life.
Excellencies and esteemed participants, welcome to South Africa, welcome to WEF on Africa 2013.
I thank you!