Intervention by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma at the BRICS Leaders’ Plenary Session, Goa, India
16 October 2016
Your Excellency and our esteemed BRICS Chairperson, Prime Minister Modi
Your Excellency, President Xi Jingping
Your Excellency, President Temer
Your Excellency, President Putin
Ladies and gentlemen
I wish to congratulate our Chair and gracious host, Prime Minister Modi, for his leadership towards yet another set of milestone achievements for our grouping today.
The world is faced with new, inter-connected challenges which require our concerted efforts to resolve.
The trans-continental and trans-boundary dimension of these challenges requires us to be ever more innovative in our collaborative efforts.
I therefore welcome the further expansion of the BRICS STI Framework Programme as an enabling instrument to support research, development, and innovation partnerships.
Water, as a potential source for future conflicts, requires concerted collaboration. In this regard, we thank President Putin for Russia’s hosting of the BRICS Water Forum.
Developing countries need to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is based on distributed Smart Systems integrated in the Internet of Things, with high levels of digitisation, automation, and networking.
This will require the necessary investments in technology and infrastructure development, technology transfer, skills development, and industrial financing that will improve Africa’s competitiveness and productive capacity, as well as reduce transaction costs.
Our working lunch focused on strengthening people-to-people cooperation, cognisant that we constitute almost half of the global population. Our combined demographic dividend represents a real advantage for future growth. It also serves as an engine for global growth through empowering future consumer classes.
It is our responsibility to harness our collective strength to improve the conditions of our people. In this regard, BRICS countries should become centres of cultural innovation and exchange and creativity, driven by people-to-people interaction.
We also encourage the development of strong new and indigenous knowledge systems and knowledge sharing initiatives amongst ourselves.
Our BRICS Think Tanks Council has recommended to us that we consider an innovative framework for the governance of new spaces and commons, notably the Outer Space, Deep Ocean and the Internet.
Given the contestations in these spaces, we appeal that enhanced functional cooperation becomes the motive and incentive for developing these spaces in order to serve humanity, especially its most deprived citizens.
In Africa our coastal communities face the dire consequences of climate change and require urgent funding to adapt to the various challenges.
It is important that developing countries become partners in this process and that the related global value chains include the owners of natural resources to also be the beneficiaries thereof.
We also need to empower our vulnerable groups who are most impacted by poverty, climate change and the global economic crisis among other challenges.
We emphasise the need for a full role for women in society, in the economy and governance to achieve the world we hope for. The outcomes of the meeting of our Women Parliamentarians will undoubtedly contribute to these goals.
The 2016 BRICS Youth Summit noted that education, employment, entrepreneurship and skills training are critical for young people to be socially and economically empowered.
It was highlighted that many countries are supporting apprenticeships and providing incentives and opportunities for entrepreneurship.
In this regard, the Youth Summit made a commitment to create an enabling environment for fostering innovation by young people. In order to accelerate inclusive growth, BRICS countries must expand investment in developing small, micro and medium sized enterprises.
The South African Government, business and labour agreed to create a million youth internships to be jointly financed by the private sector and a package of state incentives will be launched in 2017.
Funding has also been set aside to promote equity investments in small businesses. Access to markets remains a critical area of focus for the success of our small and micro businesses.
The BRICS grouping together accounts of overall GDP of 16 trillion dollars.
More than 40 per cent of the BRICS economies are driven by the MSME sector according to government estimates.
BRICS has provided the world with new models, if not paradigms, for development tailored to the unique needs of the developing world.
We therefore celebrate our own achievements, while acknowledging the historic contributions of the developed world and the need for enhanced partnerships to mobilise all available resources to achieve our Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
In respect of the implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership we have identified key projects for cooperation with our BRICS partners in the areas of Insurance and Re-insurance Cooperation; the BRICS Seed Bank; Infrastructure including Electricity Generation and Transmission.
Also, in the BRICS Cable Project, the African Union (AU) North-South Development Corridor; the Ocean’s Economy, Cooperation in Aviation as well as Manufacturing.
We look forward to working with the BRICS Business Council on the details of these projects and their implementation.
South Africa’s participation in BRICS is interlinked with the development objectives of Africa as reflected in Agenda 2063, which is the Continent’s blueprint for economic and technological transformation.
Significant opportunities on the Continent present themselves. However the Continent’s full potential will remain unfulfilled unless we address the challenges related to inadequate infrastructure, small and fragmented markets, under-developed production structures and inadequate economic diversification.
In this regard, the establishment of the New Development Bank Africa Regional Centre in South Africa is welcomed and timely as it will pay particular attention to Africa’s needs in respect of industrialisation and infrastructure as well as sustainable development.
We further welcome India’s outreach initiative to the BIMSTEC countries, and support the regional development and integration initiatives of BRICS members.
We welcome the signing of the various Memoranda of Understanding which attest to the deepening of our wide-ranging cooperation.
We take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Antonio Guterres on his appointment as the 9th UN Secretary-General.
We are encouraged by the synergy of his stated priority areas, with our own policy objectives.
These are the noted inextricable link between security and development, the need to align the UN with regional organisations, and the value of preventative diplomacy to achieve political solutions.
We assure him of our full support in recognition of the United Nations as an essential partner in all our undertakings.
We thank the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for his unselfish service to the organisation and its member states over the past decade.
We will continue to strengthen our BRICS cooperation in service of our development objectives aimed at enhancing the quality of life of our people.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency