SOUTH AFRICA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS – STRENGTHENING BUSINESS TIES BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND KENYA - Paul Mashatile TG
SOUTH AFRICA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS – STRENGTHENING BUSINESS TIES BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND KENYA: An extract from a speech delivered by the ANC Treasurer General, Paul Mashatile, on the occasion of the South Africa-Kenya Business Webinar.
This South Africa-Kenya Business Webinar will go a long way in strengthening trade and investment between South Africa and Kenya. It draws particular significance in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement recently finalized by countries on our continent.
This Agreement will create the world’s largest single market; encompassing 55 countries with a combined population of 1.2 billion people, and a collective GDP of USD 3.2 trillion.
The Agreement places our continent firmly on a path towards a brighter, inclusive and more prosperous future. It is also an important step in ensuring that as Africans we take our rightful place as a major trade, economic and investment bloc in the world economy.
As a result of this Agreement, no longer will the destiny of our continent be determined in far-away lands; outside our continent. Finally, as African’s we are beginning to take our destiny into our own hands!
I trust that business people in South Africa and in Kenya will use this Agreement as a lever through which to strengthen trade and investment between our two countries.
We must take advantage of our countries’ strategic location on the African continent: Kenya as a gateway to East Africa and South Africa as a gateway to the SADC region.
Our message is that: South Africa is open for business!
Like many countries in the world, our country is battling a devastating pandemic: COVID-19, which continues to destroy lives and livelihoods.
Our government is doing everything necessary to overcome this pandemic. This includes accelerating the roll-out of vaccines.
In the face of extreme difficulty, we are encouraged that our economy has been resilient and durable.
So too, have the people of our country.
Last year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
At the center of this Plan is the goal of building a fast growing, more inclusive economy; propelled by greater levels of public and private sector investment.
This Plan is also about ensuring that we break the back of persistent poverty, unemployment and inequality that continue to plague our country.
We are pleased that the interventions we have been making as part of our Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, are beginning to yield results.
There are clear signs that our economy is, gradually, emerging from the devastation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are also seeing signs that our government’s laser focus on implementing economic reforms – which began before the pandemic – is paying off.
These reforms include measures to improve efficiencies at our ports as well as the re-regulation of our electricity sector to allow firms to more easily increase their investment in embedded or distributed electricity capacity.
Respectively, these measures will lead to greater global competitiveness of our exports and will strengthen our energy security.
We are finalizing the issue of spectrum allocation as part of our overall commitment to reducing the cost and ensuring ease of doing business.
In addition, significant progress is being made towards ensuring greater policy and regulatory certainty in important economic sectors such as energy and telecommunications.
We are emboldened that most economists and agencies have adjusted their growth projections for the South African economy.
The International Monetary Fund has revised upwards its growth forecast for South Africa from 2.8% to 3.1 % for this year.
The World Bank has also raised its 2021 GDP growth forecast for South Africa to 4% from its previous estimate of 3.5%.
As a leading commodity producer, we expect that the currently high commodity prices, will attract capital inflows into our mining sector and boost the fortunes of domestic producers, and our overall economy.
Aided by lower interest rates and some income growth, household demand is picking up.
Last year, South Africa registered its second highest agricultural export earnings on record, and is headed for a second bumper year, this year.
Our manufacturing sector – driven largely by automotive and automotive components exports – is recovering and expanding rapidly.
Our financial services sector has also proven to be resilient and is growing at a fast pace – asset prices are recovering; bank loan default rates are stabilizing, and our financial institutions remain well capitalised.
Our quest to build a capable state is steadily gaining momentum as we continue to strengthen and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our state institutions.
As a result of improved state capacity and more effective collaboration, our ongoing fight against corruption has also gathered momentum.
While South Africa remains the preferred location for multinational investors seeking opportunities on the African continent, we are, however, aware that for our economy and our businesses to prosper, we need the rest of the continent to grow with us.
The kind of growth we envisage for our continent is that which ensures that no one is left behind.
It is for this reason that we will continue to place a high premium of promoting trade, investment and business linkages with our sister countries on the continent.
Business people must be at the forefront of this process; assured in the knowledge that Africa’s time has come!
As the ANC we condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing sporadic acts of violence, looting and destruction of property. Those who conduct these acts are not representative of who we are as South Africans – a nation at peace with itself and the world.
We are particularly concerned that these act will undermine our efforts to revive the economy, attract investment and create jobs so that we can deal decisively with the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Our task at the moment is to build and not to destroy!
Accordingly we call on government to take firm action to protect lives, property and livelihoods, so that as a nation we can be seized with the important task at hand.
We also call on communities to continue working with law enforcement agencies to defend our infrastructure and the economy in general.
May business linkages between South Africa and Kenya grow from strength to strength.
Paul Mashatile, TG