Africa had to get to the stage where it was self- sufficient and could use its own resources to fund its development needs, says President Jacob Zuma.
Addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town recently, the President said the continent also needed to reach a point where it was able to trade with the world on equal terms.
However, President Zuma also noted that Africa’s attitude towards itself and how it interacts with the world had changed for the better.
Fifty years after the setting up of the Organisation for Africa Unity (OAU) - now known as the African Union - the continent stood at a precipice, he added.
“If you take the 50 years since it was established, we are almost at a point of launching Africa into very great activities to achieve a prosperous continent.”
However, conflicts in Africa still stood in the way of development and it was for this reason that South Africa and its fellow African states were working hard to rid the continent of conflict.
“I think African leaders are saying, for the first time, ‘Let us organise ourselves and let us talk to the kind of organisations that will respond positively and very effectively on what we think needs to be done to develop our continent’.”
The President said South Africa’s BRICS membership represented an important turning point for Africa’s connectivity to the globe.
Referring to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit that took place in Durban recently, President Zuma said: “I think the BRICS leadership found it very pleasing that Africa could say, ‘Here are specific projects that Africa is presenting to investors’”.
“Our belief is that the membership of South Africa to BRICS represents the one-billion people on the continent of Africa.”
He added that the BRICS Development Bank would soon become a reality and that finance
ministers from the five member countries were currently working on the technical details around setting up the bank.
The two main issues that finance ministers were addressing was how BRICS members would capitalise the bank and secondly, where to base the development bank.
President Zuma called for the development bank to be based in Africa, where the greatest need for development funding lay.
African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who also addressed the forum, said that in the next 50 years, Africa should be described as a prosperous continent that was at peace with itself.
Dlamini Zuma said the key to Africa’s growth would be to invest in its people by improving health, education, skills and in- novation. Investing in agriculture would be key, as agriculture could help create jobs and feed those on the continent.
She pointed out that in promoting growth, the continent should opt for modern techniques, tools and infrastructure. The continent also needed more partnerships between businesses, citizens and governments.
African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka told the gathering that the continent had to continue developing infrastructure, pointing out that poor infrastructure added about 40 per cent of the cost of doing business on the continent.
Kaberuka said he had spoken with President Zuma about mobilising African resources to fund infrastructure, rather than relying largely on foreign aid, as the African Development Bank currently does, to fund such projects.