Durban - Africa has removed the shackles of colonisation, now it's time to remove the shackles of poverty and other social ills.
The platform for dialogue to address Africa's issues has been provided at the 13th African Renaissance Conference held at the Durban ICC.
The two-day meeting was preceded by a youth conference on Tuesday. Delegates from Africa, Europe and the United States joined a high profile South African government delegation on the opening day.
The conference, themed Connecting Africa, will be broken up into business, tourism and arts and culture sections, where leading professionals in the field will be heading discussions.
The Ministers of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele, Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba and Trade and Industry Rob Davies were among those representing government.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, in his welcome address, said Africans need to strengthen solidarity between different parts of the continent and improve the governance of nations.
"We need to focus on strengthening the economy of continent, a huge continent richly endowed with resources but we can't convert this into riches. We need to realise solidarity is being in contact, sharing our resources and integrating economies," said Mkhize.
The premier warned though that the conference must not overdose on political discourse and must engage on a level that is practical and inclusive.
Professor Sihawukele Ngubane, the African Renaissance Organising Committee chairperson, said this year's conference will examine issues relating to the improvement of socio-economic conditions through infrastructure development.
The youth will also have their say. Two representatives, Lynette Ntuli and Marc Rosenberg, will give feedback on launching a business platform for youth to have access to entrepreneurship.