Zuma invites France business to partner in job creation

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has invited the French business community to explore South Africa's economy and the vast opportunities that it has to offer, especially in this critical year of job creation.

Zuma said they must explore opportunities in infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism, which have been identified as key job creation sectors in South Africa. 

Over the next 10 years, government is set to spend more than R846 billion on its infrastructure development programme and invest significantly in energy, transport, communications, water and social infrastructure, such as housing. 

"Our ultimate goal is to build a South Africa with decent employment opportunities, modern infrastructure, a vibrant economy and high quality of life," said Zuma, adding that his administration wanted to work with the business sector domestically and internationally to achieve this goal.

Opening the South Africa - France business forum, Zuma said they had instructed their teams to facilitate an increase in South African exports, therefore helping support the local manufacturing sector.

There are already over 170 French companies operating in South Africa, making the total bilateral trade between the two countries R32 billion in 2008. However, this dropped to R23 billion in 2009 because of the economic recession. 

Zuma said the business sector must develop the capacity to engage systematically on policy issues, adding that long-term needs, opportunities and commitments must be identified, and targets set to measure progress toward sustainable development.

"Sustainable development can contribute to inclusive growth by opening new production opportunities, for instance, in generating green energy and supporting local and organic production." 

Zuma also encouraged the forum to explore mutual partnership of opportunities for the economic development, poverty alleviation and prosperity of the African continent as a whole. 

"You should also, in the deliberations of this forum, not lose sight of the fact that Africa is among the new pillars of economic growth, and offers a market of one billion consumers," said Zuma.

In a recent survey, the continent's growth potential was estimated to be R7 trillion by 2020, with growth in consumer goods, infrastructure, mining and agriculture. 

Globally, six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the period 2000 to 2010 were African countries. 

South Africa is the newest member of the BRICS, a group of fast-growing emerging economies including Brazil, Russia, China and India. Zuma said he will advance the African agenda and increase strategic cooperation among emerging market economies of the South in support of this agenda. 

South Africa was also willing to work with France, which holds the presidency of the G20 until November, in safeguarding the post-recession recovery.

He said the G20 has to contribute to building the foundation for sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, and for making financial systems more risk resilient. 

"The G20 agenda must also address the need to rebuild a true partnership between governments and business." - BuaNews