Gauteng premier calls for an increase of intra-Africa trade

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Edgar Brandt

Centurion-Too many investment summits produce far too few results. Africa’s economy and its businesses need less talking and more doing because business people don’t have time for summits that don’t produce results. These were some of the sentiments expressed by the Premier of South Africa’s Gauging Province, David Makhura, during an Intra-Africa Trade and Investment Summit that took place in Irene, Centurion on Friday.

The indaba was attended, amongst others, by African ambassadors, high level business leaders and continental chambers of commerce, Namibia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Veiccoh Nghiwete, and Governor of the Kavango East Region, Dr Samuel Mbambo.

During the opening remarks at the indaba, that took place at the scenic Africa Pride Irene Country Lodge, Makhura said the re-industrialisation of Africa is one of the top priorities of the Gauteng Provincial Government, the province being the economic hub of South Africa. As a result, efforts have been stepped up for the promotion of the integration of the continent to facilitate trade and commerce, as well as the movement of people, goods and services across the continent.

“We must pay greater attention to economic diplomacy by ensuring we increase intra-Africa trade above current levels of around 12 percent to at least 50 percent over the next decade,” said Makhura.

Makhura emphasised the importance of giving all people equal economic opportunities so that everyone can enjoy the fruits of liberation.

“With our determination to contribute to Africa’s industrialisation we place emphasis on strengthening relations with the rest of Africa. Let us continue to strengthen African unity and collectively ensure that we prosper together and no one is left behind.”

He added that the aim of Friday’s meeting was to increase intra-African trade above the current 12 percent, noting that African countries collectively have a gross domestic product of US$1.8 trillion, which is expected to exceed US$2.6 trillion by 2020.

According to Makhura, part of economic development is social upliftment and as per the 1955 Freedom Charter, he said, the Gauteng government is working hard to promote social cohesion and educate Gauteng residents and South Africans in general about the dangers of xenophobia.

“Africa stands at a unique moment wherein we have the greatest potential to be the centre of gravity of global economics.”

Makhura also touched on the youth in Africa, noting that soon Africa will have the youngest population in the world. The premier said the future of the continent is in the hands of young people.

“We have a youthful population that is enterprising and entrepreneurial – our youth are our greatest wealth.”

Also speaking at the indaba, Eric Bruggeman, CEO of the South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC), commended the Gauteng Provincial Government for opening the doors of communication between business and government and for addressing some of the bottlenecks that often impede business from working with the government. Interestingly, Bruggeman formed part of Makhura’s delegation to Namibia during last year’s Invest in Namibia conference in Windhoek.

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