Remarks by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa to the South Africa-Ghana Business Forum, 26 November 2013
Your Excellency, The President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama,
Your Excellency, Vice President, Mr Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur
Ministers from South Africa and Ghana,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a great honour for me to address you on the occasion of the South Africa-Ghana Business Forum.
I once again wish to thank His Excellency President Mahama for his gracious invitation to me to undertake this State Visit, which has enabled us to further cement relations between our two countries.
This visit is intended to deepen our bilateral relationship including economic cooperation, trade and investment.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We meet at a critical time when stronger intra-Africa trade is becoming more attractive given the difficult global economic climate.
It remains encouraging and gives hope that Africa continues to register economic growth despite the global economic climate.
It is clear that we are finally doing something right.
After China and India, Africa is the next growth story. Seven of the ten fastest growing global economies today are in the African continent.
African growth rates are averaging between 5 and 7 % and two of the fastest growing economies are in the West African Region.
Having topped a 7 percent growth for a decade, Ghana’s economic growth story has been the envy of most countries, including the world’s advanced nations -- where governments are still laboring to rebuild their economies from the ruin caused by the worst financial crisis.
We deemed it important that the business community from both countries should meet and explore opportunities in both countries, so that we can further develop trade and two way investments in the two countries.
We must take advantage of this positive growth climate in the continent.
In taking our economic relations forward towards prosperity, we are following the directive of our forebears, in particular the father of Pan-Africanism, His Excellency Kwame Nkrumah.
In 1963, in his eloquent speech on the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, he reminded Africa that political independence does not automatically mean economic independence.
“On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence.
“Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference’’.
Now that we are free, we are working to translate that political freedom into economic freedom, utilizing the resources that we have been endowed with in our respective countries.
And indeed, the ground is fertile to take economic relations forward in our two countries.
We welcome the fact that in spite of the decrease in trade resulting from the economic meltdown around 2009, our trade statistics depict 56% growth in trade between 2011 and 2012.
South African investments into Ghana amounted to more than 64 billion rand between 2003 and April 2013, and totalled 5 billion rand last year, 2012.
We are pleased therefore with the increasing presence of South African companies operating in Ghana.
These include MTN, Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti, Stuurrock Shipping, Simat Group, BSi Steel, Educor, Metropolitan, Stanbic Holdings, Standard Bank, Goldfields, SABMiller, Woolworths, African Explosives Limited, Multichoice, Shoprite Checkers, Sherwood, Steers and South African Airways.
On the other hand, Ghanaian investments in South Africa currently amount to an estimated figure of 7, 4 million US dollars.
Given the fruitful discussions we have had this morning, we are poised to deepen our cooperation further in the fields of tourism, communication, energy, oil and gas, manufacturing, mining, agriculture as well as science and technology.
Our newly launched Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone in the Western Cape Province provides a vehicle for partnership for upstream exploration and production service companies operating in the oil and gas fields of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our further growth as the two countries lies in diversifying our economies so that we are not exporters of raw materials, thus becoming vulnerable to fluctuating global commodity prices.
We need to invest in mineral beneficiation to reap the full benefits of our mineral resources.
We must also prioritise infrastructure development in the continent, which the African Union has stated as a key deliverable to unlock Africa’s growth potential, within the ambit of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, (NEPAD).
The African business community should therefore not lose sight of the importance of sound investment in infrastructure development in terms of roads, rail, ports, airports and telecommunications.
Another matter that is being attended to is regional integration and opening up of a continental free trade area.
This development will dramatically enhance and boost intra-Africa trade.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Most importantly, our primary goal as African leaders, is the industrialization of the continent. The business community should bear this objective in mind and explore opportunities that will take us forward in this direction.
Indeed there are lots of opportunities in the two countries and in the continent. We are upbeat as we know that there is a lot of potential to further expand trade relations and we are pleased that the business sector in both countries realizes this fact.
As the African icon President Nkrumah stated in 1963;
”The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people. Unless we do this by our concerted efforts, within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress at the tempo demanded by today’s events and the mood of our people’’.
I therefore urge you to utilize this platform and effectively engage.
We would like to see tangible results from this business forum.
We want to see expanding trade in various areas, as both South Africa and Ghana, are definitely open for business!
I Thank You!
Issued by The Presidency