Industrialisation key to Africa's development

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Africa was increasingly being recognised as the next growth frontier, with average growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund to reach 5.5%.

Although six of the 10 fastest growing economies of the world are in Africa, the continent still faced challenges of turning the growth spirit into a sustained development effort.

"Increasingly, we will encounter African leaders saying the next phase of African development needs to be characterised by the industrialisation of the African continent. That's our ambition. That's what we think needs to happen if we are to consolidate this growth spirit into a sustained development effort," said Davies.

Speaking on the first day of the fourth Conference of the African and Chinese Entrepreneurs at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, Davies said China remained the main hope for avoiding contagion from the European crisis becoming a global recession.

Davies said there were three elements to the partnership between China and Africa that could be attributed to economic performance by African countries.

"A quarter of the new growth in Africa can be attributed to a mineral products boon, which has risen largely from the increased demand for mineral products arising from China and other countries of Asia due to their industrialisation.

"... We have seen a consumption boon on the African continent, driven in part by the high consumption of products which are manufactured in China. Products like cellphones and information and communication equipment have fuelled growth on the African continent, which has given rise to service sector growth and new employment in service activities linked to information and communication technology."

The minister said infrastructure development was taking place across the African continent and China had been a very important partner in a number of infrastructure projects across the continent.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said South Africa and China have weathered the storm and continue to grow and strengthen.

"China-Africa business ties have seen exciting growth both in size and structure. Bilateral relations have grown rapidly with increased trade mix. For three years in a row, China has been Africa's biggest trading partners. In 2012 bilateral trade increased to US$166 billon," said Jiabao.

Africa's export to China doubled in three years with increasing varieties including steel, agricultural products and other finished industrial products.

Meanwhile, Davies will attend the Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) today and on Friday. He will be part of South Africa's delegation led by President Jacob Zuma.

FOCAC is a platform established by China and African countries in Beijing in 2000 for collective consultation and dialogue and a cooperation mechanism between the developing countries, which falls into the category of South-South cooperation.

Foreign and trade and industry ministers from more than 50 African countries are expected to attend.