Sexwale: Africa needs to find its own way

Africa will have to find its own way and develop its own growth agenda, which will not be either the Indian or Chinese way of forging economic development, Mvelaphanda Holdings executive chairperson Tokyo Sexwale argued on Wednesday.

At a World Economic Forum (WEF) media briefing at the start of the forum conversation on Africa, he noted that sometimes comparisons were made between the countries of India, China and Africa.

He hastily pointed out that the first two had single central governments while Africa was made up of 53 states.

All three entities had about one billion people and that “is where the similarities end”, he contended.

Sexwale, who has indicated that he would stand for the presidency of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa if he were to be nominated by the party’s branches, said lessons should be learnt from the fast economic growth strategies of China and India, but he stressed that Africa will “have to find its own way” of achieving high growth.

Both India and China will need “what Africans have in plentiful supplies … natural resources”, said Sexwale, a former premier of Gauteng.

The ANC election for its president to succeed President Thabo Mbeki as party leader takes place in December.

Sexwale, who did not dwell on political matters, spoke only of Africa’s growth prospects. He argued that the emphasis going forward will be to determine how to integrate regional markets.

Africa will also have to determine how to leverage the huge demands “and capital injection” that will be coming from the two economic giants — India and China, he argued.

Sexwale said that while Africa as a whole is growing at 5,5% to 6%, this did not “apply in exactitudes”. Angola, for example, is growing at 17,4% a year, while Zimbabwe suffered negative growth in the region of 4,4%.

He said New Partnership for Africa’s Development formed the first platform of combining the strength of African states. Growth in Africa had to come through forging alliances “region by region” and “of course to learn from the [growth] strategies of others”.

Sexwale’s remarks competed with the noise of Congress of South African Trade Union marchers protesting outside the International Convention Centre, where the WEF is being held.

Cosatu public-sector unions are on strike, demanding a 12% wage hike, about double the current CPIX (consumer inflation less mortgage costs). — I-Net Bridge

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