Your Excellency President Edgar Lungu,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers of South Africa and Zambia,
Representatives of Business from both Zambia and South Africa,
I greet you all this afternoon.
It is my great pleasure to address the Zambia - South Africa Business Forum.
You have come together as leaders from the private sector, the development finance institutions as well as key public enterprises. You share the common goals of developing the economies of our respective countries and our continent.
The theme of this business forum appropriately titled “Towards Increased Trade and Investment Cooperation”. The business forum takes place exactly 10 months after President Lungu and his esteemed business delegation visited South Africa.
Those of you who participated in the December 2016 business forum would recall that President Lungu and myself appealed to the private sector to seek novel ways of boosting the productive capacity of our industries and we asked that you partner with us in developing infrastructure that leverages industrialisation.
We also recommended that all of our cumulative efforts must prioritise the beneficiation of the abundant natural resources that our two countries are endowed with. At that meeting we also committed that our two governments would continue to create environments that are conducive to attracting investment and facilitate trade between our countries and with the continent as a whole.
I am pleased to announce to you that notable strides have been made in this regard. In terms of the government-to-government engagements, yesterday our Ministers concluded a meeting of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) which is the bilateral platform that is used to strengthen political, economic and social cooperation.
I am particularly pleased that the Joint Trade and Investment Committee (JTIC) was launched on the 20th September 2017 by our respective Trade and Industry Departments. I would like to commend the officials of the two countries for the speedy conclusion of the draft implementation matrix on trade and investment.
We wish to assure you that we will closely monitor progress on the programmes that the officials have outlined in order to promote bilateral trade and investment as well as facilitate engagements between our business communities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have noted with appreciation continued positive growth of trade between our sister Republics, reaching R33 billion in 2016.
We cannot overemphasise the urgent need for our economies to break out of the commodity dependence towards a more diversified export base. We need to see increasing activities on the manufacturing side.
In this regard, South Africa has placed great importance on implementing an outward investment-led approach across the continent.
Intra-African investments are critical to Africa’s future economic growth and South Africa is ready to contribute meaningfully to increasing the levels of intra-Africa investments whilst growing intra-Africa trade.
It is in this context that my government in 2016, though the Department of Trade and Industry, has created Trade Invest Africa, which amongst others establishes sourcing linkages with African trading partners as its contribution to facilitating the imports of African value-added manufactured products into South Africa.
More strategically, Trade Invest Africa facilitates investments by South African entities in the rest of Africa so as to increase the levels of intra-Africa trade.
Trade Invest Africa has also committed to partner with your government, Mr President, in hosting the “Invest in Zambia” Conference due to take place in South Africa on 01 November 2017.
Zambia is the second largest destination of South Africa’s direct investment in the world, after Nigeria. Available data indicates that between January 2003 and February 2016, a total of 49 South African FDI projects were recorded.
These projects represent a total capital investment of thirty seven billion rand, creating more than seven thousand employment opportunities in mining, manufacturing, metals, financial services, communications, and food and tobacco industries.
It is evident that the business interactions and exchanges between the two countries are bearing fruit and that the good relations that exist continue to be strengthened.
I remain convinced that the commercial, investment and economic relations between South Africa and Zambia are at their best. However, they have not yet reached their peak.
I believe that we have only scratched the surface of the diverse investment and trade opportunities, particularly in infrastructure and industrial development. These opportunities beckon our focused and effective engagement.
We must collaborate as equal partners in the journey of market integration, infrastructure and industrial development for a prosperous Africa.
Let me remind you that South Africa and Zambia are open for business! There are many opportunities and our business sectors on both sides must be creative and explore.
We invite you to use the opportunity provided by the warm historical relations between the two countries to advance business activities in both countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to also remind you that the year 2017 is the year of OR Tambo in South Africa. We are celebrating the centenary of this great South African hero who would be turning 100 years old on 27 October this year, had he lived.
He dedicated his life to making South Africa free of racism, repression, injustice and inequality and to ensure a better life for all especially the black majority that had been in bondage.
We know that he would not be content merely with freedom and democracy.
He would urge us to continue on this mission of a fundamental transformation and to work for the prosperity of the peoples of both Zambia and South Africa.
In his memory we should rebuild that which apartheid and colonialism sought to destroy over many decades.
We should work tirelessly to promote economic advancement so that we can bid goodbye to poverty and unemployment.
We have it within our power to make Africa a better place for all our peoples. Let us achieve greatness in Zambia and South Africa, and make our liberation heroes proud in both countries.
I thank you.