His Excellency President Talon of the Republic of Benin ,
Your Excellency, Mr Zhu Xiaodan, Governor of the Guangdong Province,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Our respective Ambassadors,
Mr Hu Huaibang, Chairman of the China Development Bank
Mr Makhtar Diop, Vice President of the Africa Region of the World Bank Group,
Captains of commerce and industry,
I am delighted to be part of the second Investing in Africa Forum.
This conference comes at the conclusion of a successful, colourful and well-organised G20 Summit that was hosted in Hangzhou by His Excellency, President Xi Jinping.
Under the visionary leadership of President Xi, the Summit was an astounding success in all respects – from the excellent logistical arrangements and the spectacular showcasing of Chinese culture to the Hangzhou consensus which saw leaders agreeing on many important issues.
Importantly, Africa’s development was prioritised by the Chinese Presidency and this approach was adopted by the G20 Summit as reflected in the Hangzhou Consensus.
Industrialisation in the continent and least developed nations was put on the global agenda. We left the beautiful city of Hangzhou with fond memories and with positive outcomes to face the tough global economic challenges.
You are meeting at this conference to discuss practical actions that will take the economies of Africa and China forward. Our message is clear. Africa is open for business. Africa is open for partnerships with China in a big way. A lot of economic interaction is already taking place between China and Africa with good results.
Governor Zhu has just returned from a successful visit to South Africa. We are very happy with the positive outcome of that visit, which included the signing of a twinning agreement between Guangdong and KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. The city of Durban and the City of Guangzhou have also been twinned.
The high level of interest on both the South African and Chinese sides was demonstrated by the fact that more than 600 businesspeople attended the KwaZulu-Natal-Guangdong business forum.
Outputs included the impressive signing of business agreements worth 2.2 billion US dollars. Indeed the future between Africa and China is bright. At the recent summit of the Forum for Africa and China (FOCAC), in South Africa last December, President XI announced that China would make available funding of 60 billion US dollars for developmental projects in the continent.
A successful meeting of the FOCAC Ministerial Coordinators took place in China in July this year to take stock of progress and promote implementation.
We are pleased that some of the projects are getting off the ground in South Africa and other countries on the continent. Today at this Investment Forum, an important memorandum of understanding is to be signed between our Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the China Communication Construction Company Limited, to explore various infrastructure development initiatives. Key amongst the projects is the Moloto Rail Development Corridor linking Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces.
This project is designed to change the quality of life of people in the area through among others promoting economic development and work opportunities and bringing an end to the long commuting distances from home to work for the poor.
We encourage the Chinese business community to further explore investment opportunities in South Africa and Africa. All African countries have in their own way put up plans to attract investment in these sectors and I urge all investors gathered here today to closely look at all African countries for their next investments.
South Africa has adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) as our socio-economic blueprint for development looking towards the year 2030. If we succeed in implementing our National Development Plan, we are confident that we will have significantly reduced the number of people that go to bed hungry by the year 2030.
We will have brought dignity to many men and women through the creation of decent jobs; and we will have closed the gap between the rich and the poor.
Key to us achieving these goals is the need to grow the economy. Yesterday our Statistics agency, Statistics SA, reported very good news that the South African economy has exceeded expectations and grew by a seasonally adjusted 3.3% in the second quarter, which was more than the 2.7% quarter which was expected by most economists.
The unexpected growth was driven by an eight percent increase in manufacturing and 11.8% increase in mining and quarrying.
Exports are also up by 18 percent and imports down by five percent. We are encouraged by the development. The cooperation between business, government and labour in our country has contributed immensely to the positive news.
It is clear that that our economy is resilient and has a potential to grow even more despite the significant domestic and global headwinds it faces. As we re-ignite our economy further, we are putting our efforts on industrialisation as part of a nine point plan we announced last year. Our industrialisation programme includes the expansion of our Special Economic Zones Programme, which offers competitive incentives ranging from tax allowances, employment incentives and a Customs Controlled Area.
This programme received a major boost last month, when the Beijing Automobile International Cooperation announced its biggest investment in the African continent to date, for a manufacturing plant in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, in our COEGA industrial development zone.
We are also implementing a massive infrastructure development programme. Within the continent, we are investing and prioritising Greenfield projects in Energy, Transport, Industry, Information and Communication Technology, and Skills Development. Africa is also open to Public Private Partnerships and other forms of private sector participation in the delivery of essential services, such as energy.
An example of this is South Africa’s highly successful Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme, which has been expanded to cover base-load coal projects.
As we invite more investors into the country, we are also working to improve the ease of doing business, following many suggestions from potential and current investors.
We are currently establishing Investor One Stop Shops which will provide efficient and investor-friendly support.
South Africa also offers substantial tax incentives to encourage investment.
The automotive and textile industries have benefitted immensely from these incentives.
Let me emphasise that we want to further expand relations with this province.
In this regard, I am pleased to announce that South Africa is in the process of establishing a Consulate-General here in Guangzhou.
We are also aware of the plans of China Southern Airlines, one of the three largest airlines in China, to establish direct flights to South Africa. We would welcome this development as it will enable us to further deepen economic relations and also promote people to people interaction and tourism.
We will have an opportunity to take stock again, and further deepen cooperation with China when the South Africa-China Binational Commission meets in South Africa in November. The BNC will take forward the work programme arising from the successful state visit undertaken by President Xi in December last year and the FOCAC summit.
Indeed relations between South Africa and China are at an all-time high. We are very pleased with this ever-increasing bond of friendship that exists between our two countries. Governor ZHU, let me thank you and the entire leadership of Guangdong Province as well as everyone who contributed to organising this important conference.
I wish you all the best with the deliberations.
I Thank you!
Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa