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#WEF summit a window on Africa - Gigaba

World Economic Forum
Durban - The World Economic Forum on Africa gathering which kicks off in Durban on Wednesday will be an opportunity to not only showcase Durban and South Africa but to showcase the entire African continent, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.

Gigaba will be part of the South African government delegation to the WEF on Africa meeting which will be led by President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

The gathering will be used by the South African government and business to woo investors and cement existing relationships.

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Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba Picture: AP

“We understand the responsibility we have towards the continent, that we need to position the African continent favourably and ensure that we tell a good story of ourselves. One of the things I despise is to see African countries parading themselves individually to investors as if we are in a beauty contest. All of us talking about how good my country is, when in fact we should be talking about how good we are as a continent,” Gigaba said.

He said Africa was alive with possibilities, as the continent’s best assets were its youthful population. “That potential, when properly harnessed, gives Africa her best possibilities.”

The minister, accompanied by KZN MEC for Economic Development Sihle Zikalala and eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, went on a tour to major development projects around Durban.

He said inclusive economic growth was a key message that the South African government would be taking to the WEF on Africa meeting.

He said there were structural defects in the South African economy as there were still people who couldn't participate in the mainstream economy.

He warned that this had to be addressed urgently to avert “serious unrest”.

“There is great social pressure emanating from young people and the marginalised who want to play a part in the economy. We cannot ignore those sentiments.”

Gigaba said one of the ways to address this was to focus on townships, rural areas and informal settlements to ensure that they become part of South Africa’s “growth story”.

“So that the form of economic activity that happens there is not only confined to spaza shops, to hair salons and car washes.”

Ownership patterns would need to be changed to create new asset owners and new wealth, he said.

“We would rather manage a growing economy than an economy that has reached its climax. The South African budget needs to keep growing for it to have the redistributive effect we need it to have.

“We need to find those areas where there is potential for new growth.”

Gigaba said South African cities still reflect the country’s history in that the unemployed and the marginalised live furthest away from the city centres which are the hub of economic activity and employment.

Read also: #WEF a great opportunity to enter into new businesses - Survé

He said accelerated inclusive economic growth would serve as a catalyst to ensure that the marginalised come on board not only as employees but also as owners of assets.

“If we make the mistake of building Bridge City for the people of KwaMashu and Ntuzuma but they do not own a piece of it, and all the shops belong to people from outside those areas, we are not doing anything to change the ownership patterns; we are actually reinforcing the exclusion of the excluded,” Gigaba said.

He explained that inclusive economic growth and radical economic transformation were not fundamentally different as both talk to structural changes in the South African economy.

Zikalala welcomed all the WEF on Africa delegates while also urging investors to invest in the province.

He said the province was full of opportunities for investors as it boasted a diverse economy.

MERCURY

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