14 December 2011
Pretoria - Promoting intra-Africa trade and investment must be a matter of urgency, says President Jacob Zuma.
More importantly, Zuma says there is a need for the private sector to now pay more attention to African markets in order to be competitive and sustainable.
"The continent is rich in natural resources but above all, it has the resourcefulness of its people. The focus, therefore, must be on creating conditions that will release the creativity and productivity of the African people," Zuma told the South Africa-Mozambique Business Forum in Maputo on Wednesday.
The President is in that country for a state visit aimed at further strengthening the existing bilateral co-operation between the two countries in areas including trade and investment, energy, mining, agriculture, communications, water, environmental affairs, arts and culture as well as science and technology.
African leaders have been talking about promoting intra-African trade in recognition of the fact that the African market of one billion consumers can be a powerful engine for growth and employment for the continent.
Yet, despite the introduction of free trade areas, customs unions and common markets within the regions, the level of intra-African trade remains relatively low.
Infrastructure was a key enabler of trade and economic integration in Africa but was severely lacking.
"What is required is that we do things that go beyond the ordinary. It cannot be business as usual on the African continent. In this regard, our continent needs to not only be characterized as a potential consumer market, but also ensure that we are at the forefront of production and innovation on our continent," said Zuma.
He called for international collaboration in tackling Africa's infrastructure deficit and partnerships with established economies and the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (Brics) group of countries.
He also believed in the approach of "Developmental Integration" with countries in the SADC region, so as to create sustainable economies of scale and productive economies in our region.
Developmental Integration, according to Zuma, places importance on building productive and industrial capacity in economies and addressing supply-side constraints such as limited road, rail, ports and energy infrastructure.
Turning focus to South Africa's relations with Mozambique, Zuma said although the relations were strong, the trade level was still low. He said the two countries were prepared to tackle the bureaucratic red tape that businesses encounter so as to create a conducive environment for trade and investment to flourish.
He said business must take opportunities in the two economies innovatively, while encouraging investments on both sides to create jobs and help to improve the quality of life of the people.
"These must be partnerships that ensure skills development, innovation, capital investments and technology transfer towards positive outcomes for our two economies. The infrastructure is being created for these opportunities to be utilised."
The President commended projects such as Sasol's R9.2 billion 865-km gas pipeline that ferries natural gas from the Temane and Pande fields in Mozambique to a distribution network in Secunda. -BuaNews