/ 19 September 2012

Zuma courts EU investment in infrastructure development

President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.

Speaking at the SA-EU Summit in Brussels on Tuesday, Zuma said bilateral partnerships needed to be strengthened to tap into the potential that existed in infrastructure development, especially energy and transport.

He said government had launched an infrastructure development plan which was aimed at supporting the growth of the country's economy.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in his February budget speech that government would spend R3.2-trillion in the next three years on over 40 major infrastructure projects.

"We invite international partners for the major infrastructure programmes, including the development of infrastructure for water, rail, and electricity," he said.

Other projects focused on health and basic education infrastructure, information and communication technologies and regional integration.

Astronomy infrastructure
Africa's successful bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope offered investment possibilities in the development of radio astronomy infrastructure, he said.

Zuma said that for the past five years South Africa had established a solid technical framework which had informed the developments of the sectoral programmes.

These included critical sectors of service delivery, such as education and health.

Ongoing challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality required continued support from the EU, Zuma said.

A meeting was held between business leaders from South Africa and those of the EU.

Important role
Zuma said the new dialogue between the two parties would play an important role in advising political leaders on the full potential of SA-EU trade and investment links.

EU companies were among the biggest investors in South Africa, accounting for R75.7-billion in 2010.

The bloc was also South Africa's largest trading partner, with more than 90% of their two-way trade liberalised this year under a trade, development and co-operation agreement.

But the EU was pushing South Africa to go further by endorsing a regional Economic Partnership Agreement covering all countries in the Southern African Development Community. – Sapa