President Jacob Zuma delivers the opening address at the ANC's 5th national policy conference taking place in Johannesburg. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Friday charged the 5th national policy conference of the African National Congress (ANC) to deepen discussion on ways to reignite the ailing South African economy.

"This policy conference takes place at a difficult period economically in our country. The economy has entered a technical recession. At the time of the budget in February, the economy was expected to grow at a low 1,3 percent in 2017. Given current difficulties, even this low growth rate may now not be achieved," Zuma said as he addressed the conference being held at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.

"Our deliberations at this conference on the economy need to look at what needs to be done to reignite growth over the next five years."

In his opening remarks at the landmark conference, Zuma, however, said the 2017 conference was taking a place against the backdrop of progress made in "consolidating democracy" in South Africa.

Security was tight at the conference which has drawn several thousand delegates from all corners of South Africa.