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Source: Department of Trade and Industry
Title: Thabethe: Address to women in Ghana
Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe addresses Ghanaians in
Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry
Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Children's Affairs
High Commissioner to the South African Embassy in Ghana
Government officials from South Africa (SA) and Ghana
Representatives of organisations
Women entrepreneurs from Ghana and South Africa
Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning to you all. I would like to thank the government of
Ghana, the women entrepreneurs, our very own South African Embassy
for making all of this possible. To all the Ghanaians who have
graced us with their presence, we are indeed humbled by your
response and for taking time from your busy schedules to engage
with us. My delegation and I will certainly make this forum worth
Fortunately I have been in Ghana since Saturday and have had the
opportunity to be a business tourist. Through this I have been
exposed to the real people and a bit of the culture of this
beautiful country. My name is Elizabeth Thabethe, one of the two
Deputy Ministers of Trade and Industry, responsible for Consumer
issues as well as issues of the second economy. Two officials, my
daughter and 10 women entrepreneurs accompany me on this visit.
They are mainly involved in the clothing and textile industry and
are all members of the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network
(SAWEN) from different provinces of SA.
Honourable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, I first wish to forward
an apology from our First Lady Mrs Mbeki, who could not join us
today due to prior commitments, which were effected by the change
of the dates of this visit. She sends her best wishes to the
leadership of this forum, its participants and the people of Ghana.
As part of my remarks I will share with you the purpose of our
visit; locate this within the broader African process facilitated
by our leaders; reflect on why women entrepreneurship is critical;
areas of focus for possible collaboration and closure.
As I have already indicated, this is my second visit. Last year
when I was here, part of my visit was being linked up with leaders
in government to see how we could further strengthen the already
existing trade relations with this country. From the warm
reception, and good discussions I had with the ministers, we agreed
that there is indeed a genuine need to further extend the already
established trade linkages to include women entrepreneurs.
I promised to return, and here I am with my delegation. Part of my
coming back was the realisation that women entrepreneurship in this
country have and continue to be, leading best practices on the
continent and around the world. The establishment of our very own
SAWEN was also motivated by the successes you have achieved through
your own similar structure. It is therefore no coincidence that
today the very same is part of this forum.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, apart from this I am also aware of
the fact that both countries' women face the same challenges.
Likewise, our women continue to have limited access to credit, they
continue to have dual family and business responsibilities, which
hamper their full participation in the broader economy, limited
access to finance leading to no ownership of land, amongst
As much as this happens to be the case, a winning characteristic
that the two countries also share is the realisation that this
situation needs to be addressed. I am convinced that the main
reason behind this is both countries see women entrepreneurship as
a valuable resource that, if properly supported, can be a strong,
effective backbone of our economy. We are learning in South Africa
that women entrepreneurship has a multiplier effect that has a
great potential to address other critical socioeconomic needs, like
education and health, which are central for development.
Honourable ministers, ladies and gentlemen, I request that we also
locate this initiative within the context where our leaders are
trying to address both political and economic challenges faced by
our continent. This includes the commitments made by various
African states through the roadmap provided by the African Union
(AU) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), to
collaborate to achieve greater unity and solidarity for the
development of our respective people and our continent.
As indicated by President Mbeki, as Africans we need faster ways to
accelerate change and implement the programmers of the AU,
particularly its development programme, NEPAD. We have to
collaborate better to end conflicts and wars, ensure the all-round
development of the masses of our people and advance towards the
realisation of the goal of African unity. The role and commitment
for the further advancement of women entrepreneurship is central
towards the achievement of these.
Honourable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, women entrepreneurship
can and has played a critical role towards economic development.
Through their enterprises, they create jobs for our local people
thus reducing unemployment and uprooting poverty in our
communities. The people employed are thus enabled to provide for
the basic needs of their families. Working together with
government, with the necessary support, they have the means of
managing sustainable and profitable enterprises.
This in return ensures that others have the financial ability to
provide their families with shelter, food, basic healthcare, basic
education, etc. Women entrepreneurship presents us as government
with another vehicle for developing economic survival tactics that
will go beyond even these very basics, including generating wealth
for themselves, their families, their communities, our country, our
region and the continent at large. Together this plays a vital role
in assisting us to achieve mental stability, peace of mind,
spiritual revival and enrichment, all of which is the cornerstone
for the sustained economic development needed by South Africa and
Honourable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, without wasting too
much time, allow me to indicate to you what it is that we as South
Africans are interested in as part of further strengthening this
relationship. This is informed by our own research conducted where
we have studied the economic trends of Ghanaian women
entrepreneurship. These include the following:
Agriculture and Forestry
Apart from your cocoa product that accounts for 30 to 40% of total
exports, your other food crops and livestock are by far the most
important contributors to output, making up around 25% of Gross
Domestic Product (GDP). We have identified this as critical for
partnership. Fortunately last week, we in South Africa have
recently launched a forum for rural women under the leadership of
our current Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs.
Through this structure and SAWEN, we would appreciate exchanging
best practices around the effective farming methods and how to best
engage with the relevant market. Obviously there is also another
possibility of exporting some of your products to us. Around
forestry, we would like to pursue business focusing on the exchange
of skills. Ghanaians produce some of the best woodcraft items,
where together with the possibilities of entering into the design
of furniture manufacturing, our women can excel. Both countries can
lead in producing Afrocentric furniture products, now in high
demand around Africa and Asia.
South Africa is famous for its gold mines, which include the
deepest mines in the world, requiring cutting-edge technologies. In
addition to still being the top gold producer in the world, South
Africa is also the top producer of platinum, rhodium, chrome,
manganese, vanadium, vermiculite, and alumino-silicates. It is also
a significant producer of coal, diamonds, antimony, copper,
fluorspar, iron ore, lead, nickel, titanium, zinc, and zirconium.
In all, 707 mines produced 55 minerals and accounted for 7,5% of
GDP in 2001.In South Africa we have the South African Women in
Mining Association (SAWIMA), of which some of its leading members
are leaders of SAWEN. In this sector we can work together where our
focus can be around beneficiation, such as the production of
Afrocentric designs of jewellery.
We have already made strides in our country through companies like
Nozala Investments and projects like Kgabane. Securing and
facilitating access to the mining rights for women is a possibility
for us now and certainly we can work with Ghanaian women on these.
We can facilitate initiatives like diamonds for development where
we change the negative history of corruption, smuggling and poor
management of diamonds.
Industry and manufacturing
We, as South Africans, are very interested in your thriving garment
and textile industry. I hope you have noticed that the century for
African fashionable outfits has arrived and in South Africa our
young up and coming designers have heeded this call. This is the
area where women from both countries should dominate.
With your renowned effective and efficient tailor services, there
can be a great exchange of skills and great collaboration. National
garment prints like kente, seshweshwe, umbhaco and isidwaba need to
be promoted as part of the current fashion trends. The interior cor
trends offer our women a great opportunity, which lies in our hands
due to it being tied to our family responsibilities.
We have also identified tourism and the financial sector for
possible collaboration. Through your stunning national parks and
reserves combined with our breath taking mountains and white beach
sand, much can be facilitated. Enterprises like travel agencies,
bed and breakfast establishments as well as boutique hotels present
our women with great opportunities. Skills and information exchange
initiatives can be looked at. As we prepare for the 2010 World Cup
in South Africa, continuing to host various international forums,
we need to find ways of ensuring that our guests don't leave SA
without making a turn in Ghana.
Regarding the issue of finance, currently my department is working
around the establishment of the Women Entrepreneurs' Fund. We need
assistance on how we can better ensure that women who tend to be
classified as belonging in micro industries, can access this.
Without this fund benefiting these very women, our fund will not
make the desired impact. This is about mainstreaming women's
involvement and participation in the main economy.
Honourable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, these are just some of
the possible areas of co-operation as part of advancing women
economically. In all of these, SAWEN is the main vehicle for
driving these. Its current leadership, including its newly
appointed president, deputy president and national council, is
prepared and committed to make this a success. This leadership,
supported by us, will further pursue the finalisation of this
To conclude, I would like to leave you with the words of President
Mbeki who said, "All of us as political leaders, as workers, as
businesspeople, youth, women and the intelligentsia have a duty to
fight against poverty and underdevelopment as well as to ensure
that as Africans we define ourselves, not in the image of our
former colonisers but in the spirit of our African ancestors, who
bequeathed so much to the human race. I am certain that through our
determined and collective struggles, we shall overcome."
Once more, I thank you most sincerely for embracing our visit and
responding so positively. Let us work together to further realise
the objectives set for realising the economic emancipation of our
women in Africa. Africa belongs to both its men and women, both
must share the responsibility for ensuring its peace and
Issued by: Department of Trade and Industry
24 October 2006
Source: Department Trade and Industry (http://www.dti.gov.za)