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SOUTH Africa and Africa need skills development to drive the industrialisation required for continued growth on the continent, the minister of trade and industry told Swiss industrialists yesterday.
With the International Monetary Fund putting Africa’s growth at 5.5 percent, industrialisation was needed to ensure sustainable growth and development on the continent, said the minister at the Swissmem Industry Day yesterday.
The minister is on a brief visit to Switzerland where he has had an opportunity to visit Swiss industries and meet his counterpart, Federal Councillor Johann Schnieder-Ammann, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs.
The focus of the industry day was new markets and Davies spoke not only of investment opportunities in SA, but in Africa as a whole.
He said things were changing on the continent, and that SA’s contribution to the International Monetary Fund for distressed economies showed just how much they were.
“Africa is on the move,” he told members of Swissmem and diplomats at the event in Zurich.
Swissmem is an association of the Swiss engineering, electrical and metal industries, and related technology-oriented sectors.
Davies said Switzerland and SA had good trade relations and the free trade agreement they had in place could be expanded to include other parts of the continent. If successful, this could give African countries and Switzerland access to each others’ markets.
The SA government saw the need for industrial development to drive job creation and was taking action through the establishment of economic zones and infrastructure development, Davies said.
He said there were opportunities for Swiss companies in the development of power stations, railways, telecommunications and more.
Davies said SA was also embracing green industries. There was no reason why SA could not become involved in manufacturing in this area. Davies cited solar panels as an example. He said jobs were being created, but for skilled workers.
Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said more than 100 Swiss companies were trading in SA, creating in the region of 36 000 jobs.
Hans Hess, president of Swissmem, said Swiss companies should make the most of globalisation as the opportunities offered by emerging markets outweighed the risks.