His Excellency President Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China,
His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and chairperson of the African Union,
Fellow African Heads of State and Heads of Governments,
African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma,
Ministers, Deputy Ministers
Greetings to you all.
We appreciate this opportunity to address the Fifth FOCAC Business Forum.
You have come together as business people from the continent and China to explore economic opportunities in the two countries, during this first FOCAC summit to take place in Africa.
Your interactions are important for the promotion of inclusive economic growth, development and job creation.
Your reports indicate that a lot of progress was made during the discussions. This augurs well for economic cooperation within FOCAC.
FOCAC has already delivered tangible results for its participants since its inception.
This is most notably reflected in the exponential growth in trade we have seen in the last 15 years.
Trade between China and Africa had grown from over 10 billion US dollars in 2000 to two hundred and one billion in 2014. It is anticipated that trade will reach three hundred billion US dollars during 2015.
During the same period, China's investment in Africa has also sharply increased from five hundred million US dollars to 30 billion US dollars.
The Johannesburg Summit is thus meeting against the background of good progress that has already been made on the economic front.
Our deliberations as Leaders at this Summit will centre on developing further cooperation and advancing our partnership in the areas of politics, economics, social development, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and security.
We will explore issues such as agriculture and food security, infrastructure development, energy and natural resources, the marine economy, tourism, investment and economic cooperation, trade and finance.
We have already identified three focus areas of cooperation over the next three years, namely industrial cooperation, health cooperation as well as peace and security cooperation.
As you are also pleasantly aware, our programme of work was given a dramatic boost earlier today through the major announcement by President Xi of a new package of development support to the African continent, worth eight hundred and sixty three billion rand.
We express our gratitude to you Mr President for prioritising development as well as the attainment of peace and security in Africa.
Your announcement has further boosted confidence in the African continent, building on the good news that is challenging the stereotype of an Africa that is a lost cause.
The truth is that Africa is rising and Africa has a bright future. It all depends on all of us here to make things happen.
We have facts to prove what we are saying when we say that Africa is rising.
Africa is the second fastest growing region in the world after Asia, growing steadily at a rate of 5% per year over most of last decade.
This growth has been attributed to the increasingly sound macro-economic environment with low government debt, rising domestic resource mobilization and reduced inflation rates.
The consumer market in the Continent is rising in line with its growing population.
The environment for doing business is steadily improving in light of successful remedial actions in governance and economic management.
The rollout of technology and innovation is improving the access to financial services.
In addition the Continent is blessed with an abundance of natural resources.
Over the past five years 30% of global oil and gas discoveries were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Further to this, Africa has 60% of the world's arable land.
As a result of these developments, Africa's middle class is now growing rapidly, and the continent has become a major market for consumer goods.
Despite the good news, poverty remains a scourge on the Continent which everyday citizens face, and which we must eradicate.
In 2013, at the Golden Jubilee of the Organization of African Unity African Union, the AU's Agenda 2063 was unveiled as the continent's socio-economic development blueprint.
Among others, Agenda 2063 aspires to a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
It also seeks an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa's Renaissance.
The integration of the continent is a key priority which is being advanced through a three pillar approach.
These are market integration through the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area as well as industrial and infrastructure development.
Aligned to the Continental Free Trade Area is the Tripartite Free Trade Area which brings together 26 African countries within SADC, East African Community and COMESA.
It provides an integrated market with a combined population of 600 million people and a GDP of one trillion US dollars, and a long-term GDP growth rate in excess of 5%.
With regards to the second pillar, infrastructure development, an intensive work programme for infrastructure development across the continent is underway.
This includes the AU Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan and the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, with the flagship programme being the North-South Corridor.
Arguably, the third pillar of industrial development is the area where considerable attention is required.
Industrial development is the key to exports and economic diversification. In South Africa we produce an annual Industrial Policy Action Plan to ensure focus on industrialisation.
Ladies and gentleman,
We have to ensure that the work done at this business forum contributes to economic development and that it is not lost.
During our deliberations we will seek to advance the interventions that you, our Captains of Industry, have identified as being critical towards creating an environment that is conducive towards the needs of business.
These include the following;
Improving industrial production capabilities,
Establishment of Special Economic Zones, industrial parks and technology parks,
Increased technology transfer and skills development,
Beneficiation at source
Increased investment flows
Market access expansion
Diversification of the trade basket to include more value-added goods and
the expansion and integration of value chains across the Continent.
To further ensure that the work you have done is not lost, I would like to receive an exhaustive action plan in due course.
Congratulations on your successful first FOCAC Business Forum to be held in Africa.
We wish you all the best in taking the projects and programmes forward.
I thank you!l
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS