Gordhan touts 'resource-filled' Africa at WEF

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan with President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan with President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

"There's a great deal of excitement around the world ... about South Africa as the new place, where you going to see exciting things happening over the next 10 to 20 years," Finance Minister Gordhan told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa on Thursday.

Gordhan said his visits to Washington and London in recent weeks proved to be both insightful and positive.

The WEF offered an opportunity to convince more people about Africa's potential.

"It's about saying to people who have money and want to make a profit out of their money that you can invest in South Africa and the African continent, and you can have opportunities to work with us."

Investors needed to be reminded that 60% of the world's arable land was in Africa.

"It's a very resource-filled continent as well. More importantly, it's a continent that has a billion potential consumers," Gordhan said.

The fact that Africa's youth population would exceed that of other continents in the next two to three decades was also a motivating factor.

"It means this is the part of the world that is going to offer growth potential ... that is going to offer new answers on climate change, on economic development, on reducing inequality and poverty."

Stamping out conflict to boost development
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma on Thursday said that African countries are trying to stamp out conflicts on the continent to boost development.

"In 50 years we would like to see an Africa that is connected totally, an Africa that is economically viable ... an Africa that would be at peace with itself where there will not be single area of conflict," he said at the forum.

The African Union is celebrating 50 years of existence this year.

African development was impossible without peace, he said.

"That's why we are putting more focus on that kind of issues. That's why we have more interaction with our friends and partners, and the call for support to address those issues is an important one."

South African National Defence Force troops were helping various countries on the continent at present.

Zuma, however, came under heavy criticism for these deployments after 13 South African soldiers were killed during a coup in the Central African Republic in March.

Africa should become self-sufficient
The discussion also focused on how Africa intended to speed up development.

Zuma said the key was for Africa to become self-sufficient.

"[What we want to see] is an Africa that is able to use its own resources to develop itself and to trade with the world at an equal level."

Africa's possible gains from South Africa's inclusion in the Brics group of developing nations was discussed earlier.

The Brics countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Zuma said South Africa's membership of the group represented a turning point for Africa and its economic activities.

African countries was overlooked too many times when it came to major world events, he said.

"This time around the Brics links indicate that Africa cannot be bypassed by the events that are changing the landscape economically, socially and politically in the world."

Brics bank could help fund Africa
Zuma said South Africa would represent Africa's more than one-billion people through its membership of Brics.

"Africa's attitude to itself and how it should interact towards the world has changed," Zuma said.

One of the major problems Africa faced was funding infrastructure development. Brics partners and African leaders were discussing the matter, he said.

On funding, Zuma said the highly anticipated Brics bank could help in this regard.

He suggested the bank be based in Africa. The leaders of the Brics countries signed a deal to establish the bank at a summit in Durban in March.

"Africa feels the bank should be established here, particularly because the greater need for the bank is on the continent of Africa."

He expected decisions about the details of the Brics bank to be made at the next summit in Brazil.

Brics finance ministers were working out the finer details of the bank, including its location.

Brics bank proposed as IMF rival
"How do we capitalise the bank by the members of Brics ... so it can meet the needs the developing world has?" Zuma asked.

Brics leaders were hoping the new development bank would rival the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"[We need] to look at a different approach to the well-established old banks, which at times, if you wanted to deal with matters as quickly as possible, it was a little bit slow," Zuma said. – Sapa

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