Address by Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, at the United States of America-Africa Business Summit, in Cape Town
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Premier of Western Cape Province, South Africa, Honourable Ebrahim Rasool President of the Republic of Madagascar, H.E Marc Ravalomanana
President of the Republic of Namibia, H.E Hifikepunye Pohamba
President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
United States of America Secretary of Treasury Honourable Henry Paulson
United States of America Secretary of Trade Ms Schwartz
Minister of Transport and Communications, Angola, Honourable Andre Louis Brendao
Vice Minister of Public Works, Angola, Eng Jose Joanes Andre
Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Botswana, Honourable Lebonaamaang Thanda Mokalake
Minister of Accommodation, Housing and Town Planning, Gabon, H.E Mr Jacques Adiahenot plus three delegates
Minister of Industry and Commerce of Mali, Honourable Ba Fatoumata Nene Sy
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Namibia, Honourable Dr Nickey Iyambo
Minister of Mines and Energy, Namibia, Honourable Erkki Nghimtina
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Namibia, Honourable Mr Bernhard Esau
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of foreign Affairs, Namibia, Amb Veiccoh Nghiwete
Executive Director, Office of the President, Namibia, Amb Ndali Chè Kamati
Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Namibia, Mr Munu G Kuyonisa
Permanent Secretary, National Planning Commission, Namibia, Mr Mocks Shivute
Minister of National Planning, Nigeria, Senator Sanusi Daggash
Minister of Economy, Trade, Private sector, Madagascar, Mr Ivohasina Razafimahefa
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Mauritius, Honourable Ramakrishna Sithanen
Minister of Public Enterprises, South Africa, Honourable Alec Erwin
Minister of Trade and Industry, South Africa, Honourable Mandisi Mpahlwa
Minister of Minerals and Energy, South Africa, Honourable Buyelwa Sonjica
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Marketing, Tanzania, Dr Florence Turuka
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of State, Linda Thomas Greenfield
Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, United States of America, Department of Transportation, Mr Andrew Steinberg
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Africa, Middle East and South Asia, Ms Holly Vineyard
President of the Corporate Council for Africa, Mr Tempelsman
Esteemed delegates and guests
Ladies and gentlemen:
Greetings and best wishes to all participants. Thank you for choosing South Africa as your meeting place. Welcome to the City of Cape Town and thank you for choosing the Cape Town Convention Centre as the venue for this historic business Summit.
It is said Cape Town is one of those cities you must visit at least once in your lifetime.
Thanking the Corporate Council
We thank the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) for the role it has played over the years in promoting Africa in the United States of America (USA) through convening business summits and disseminating information about investment opportunities on our continent. A task that has to remain at hand and even intensified. Many of you also do business in Africa and that is also much appreciated.
First Summit held outside United States of America
We are particularly pleased with the decision to hold the first Corporate Council US/Africa Business Summit outside the United States of America, in our country. But we hope that you will also be doing so in other African countries.
I am sure this summit will have concrete positive outcomes and it will give fellow Africans an opportunity to influence the agenda of the CCA in the best interest of both African and American colleagues.
Message to delegates
Africa is experiencing an unprecedented economic boom, which is going to be sustained for many years to come. The time is right for investors who want to participate in this exciting phase of economic prosperity to increase their investments and those who have not yet invested to act. We say: Africa is open for business! We have New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), which is an all-inclusive plan that captures some of key opportunities in Africa.
Africa's Economic Growth
An average economic growth of five and half (5,5) percent achieved during the last three years is only the beginning. Growth in the current year is estimated to exceed six percent and the outlook for 2008 is slightly down at 5, 8 percent due to global downturn. Africa, however, has some market leaders that have sustained growth.
Tourism in Africa
Tourism in Africa grew at 8,1 percent average, which is above the world average of 5,6 percent in the first eight months of 2007. South Africa's growth is at 9,5 percent, far higher than the continental and world averages. The scope for further growth is bigger in South Africa and in many African countries with greater investment in infrastructure, air transport, hotels, skills and product variety.
Youthfulness of Africa
Currently, youth aged 12 to 24 make up 1,5 percent of the global population of 6,5 billion. Of all young people, nearly 90 percent or one point three billion (1,3 billion) live in developing countries. Relatively, Africa has the largest share of children and youth. This presents our continent and country with an opportunity to shape the next generation, depending on what we do or don't do. If we do not have a smart approach to developing the youth, it could be a burden.
This, I want to argue, requires us in Africa and our partners to invest in a highly productive and healthy youth for the sake of Africa and the world, which is poised for an unprecedented skills shortage. Africa has the biggest pool of warm bodies that can be trained for global skills needs and for the achievement of the yet to happen African industrialisation.
So we would like to have your good selves as part of our skills production and to curb Africa's under-skilling and brain drain.
In this, I urge that we agree to develop an "African Skills Revolution Partnership" as a joint project with CCA. I volunteer all of us, Africans, to input. That will be a win-win situation especially assisting in building and rebuilding centres of excellence in Africa, even in your areas of need.
Alive with possibility
Tourism, agriculture and mining, with beneficiation, are some of Africa's biggest opportunities that offer a win-win solution to US/African relations. As a continent we need partners in improving education and health performance as a base for a robust economic environment. Both also have economic and investment opportunities for example, information and communication technology (ICT) demand for e-education.
Conditions for growth
Rising oil prices and strong demand for commodities have contributed to the economic boom of the last few years, but in addition, the restoration of political stability, improved macro-economic management and debt relief, have made a material contribution. Rising prizes have also contributed to the high cost of living in many African countries.
So on its own, resource-demand driven growth is not sustainable or balanced. Africa needs a much broader manufacturing base and much longer and wider value chain. Africa needs to improve its industrial base, value addition, growth of knowledge economy, do better on agriculture and fair access to markets. This is an area in which the United States of America can be of great help. This by no means says that we do not appreciate African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). We have seen how well countries such as Lesotho have used Agoa.
Increased demand for goods and services
There is a younger and dynamic breed of African entrepreneurs, who are breaking new ground. They need someone to give them a chance. The combination of these factors have resulted in greater demand for day-to-day goods and services by citizens, as well as increased capital flows. Furthermore, political stability has created a more conducive climate for long-term investment in human and physical infrastructure.
Networking the entrepreneurs
Many emerging entrepreneurs have a need for partners with whom to make significant investments in Africa. In such a visit and conference we must not miss opportunities to make these important contacts.
South Africa's economic programme
Coming to South Africa, the Republic of South Africa has embarked on a very ambitious programme to improve economic competitiveness. The programme is focused on improving both the human and physical infrastructure and on policy adjustments across a number of sectors. I am sure that the Ministers and business leaders participating in the Summit will highlight some of the interventions. We have our ministers of Trade and Industry and Public Enterprises and Minerals and Energy who will participate in this summit.
Our Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) in South Africa is an intervention that address the binding constraints to our growth and even more lack of shared growth, therefore, we identified:
* industrial sector
* capacity and scope of the state and regulatory environment
* second economy and poverty
For each challenge we have interventions: education and skills is a cross cutting challenge and we have elevated it through Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa).
Despite all the challenges in South Africa, we have a set of seriously good news. Economic growth has been good for South Africa and living standards have been boosted by:
* higher wages, lower interest rates and personal income tax relief.
* rising employment
Significant share of economic success redistributed through the fiscus.
* the economy has boosted taxes and lowered interest rates, allowing government expenditure to grow strongly
* social wage consistently expanded
* transfers to households have grown
* public sector remuneration and employment recently boosted
* growth in capital spending has improved access to and quality of services
* permanent deterioration amongst significant challenges in the trade balance from oil prices
* skill deficit binding
* our large number of poor citizens entrenches inequality.
Good timing for investments
Even with all our challenges you could not have come at a better time. We are at a very exciting stage of development. We sincerely hope that you will take the time to obtain information about investment opportunities in South Africa, and also visit other African countries to see for yourself what is really happening.
Now more than ever, Africa needs trade more than aid.
Importance of 2010
* We are ahead of schedule in construction of most of the stadiums and the infrastructure projects under construction across the country. Despite experiencing some labour disputes at some of the constructions sites.
* We are determined to make the 2010 Federation of International Football Association (Fifa) Soccer World Cup the most memorable African experience ever.
* We are particularly interested in leaving behind a transportation and infrastructural legacy.
* Rolled and updated Information and Communication Technology.
* Boost of tourism and much better management of our soccer industry and the beautiful game.
* Through tourism we will also be able to share benefits with other African countries.
* While we do not think the United States of America will be in the final of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup, but this should not stop Americans from coming in their numbers to watch South Africa in the finals.
Best wishes and great success in your deliberations. May you find the experience fulfilling and rewarding. Thank you once more for taking the time to deliberate on investment opportunities in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
14 November 2007