Your Excellency, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago, President of Equatorial Guinea and Chair of the African Union;
Your Excellency, Prime Minister of Ato Meles Zenawi;
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India;
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government representing the African Union;
Chairperson of the African Union Commission;
Honourable Ministers and Special Envoys;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is indeed an honour for South Africa to attend this second Africa-India Summit. Let me hasten to convey South Africa’s high appreciation for and commitment to this Africa-India partnership.
It is our belief that this is and should remain a mutually beneficial strategic partnership. As such this mutually beneficial partnership has proven to be result-oriented and focused on the development of the economies and peoples of Africa and India.
We all know that the international financial crisis has undermined Africa’s growth and set back its efforts to reduce poverty.
The deceleration of growth caused by external shocks such as the global recession, climate change and the volatility of food and fuel prices, which disproportionately affects the poor, is also one of Africa’s main concerns in the post-crisis period.
In view of these challenges, South Africa would like to commend India’s commitment of USD 18 billion worth of projects to Africa by the Indian Businesses at the Business Forum Conclave held early this year, as well as the credit line India offered to Africa during the first Summit in 2008.
We, as African countries, need to ensure that we fully utilise such opportunities to the benefit of our people especially since the shortage of finance experienced by Africa in this current economic situation depresses investment, deters growth and undermines the ability of our countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
This credit line is consequently critical to sustain adequate levels of investment, particularly in infrastructural development. An AU/NEPAD High-Level Sub-Committee on Infrastructure, which His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma chairs, was established in response to the recognition that the availability of an integrated and cost-effective infrastructure system in Africa could support and sustain regional economic development, trade and investment, and ultimately lead to socio-economic development.
The North-South Corridor is one initiative that requires funding from our partners in the quest to develop transport and energy infrastructure, trade facilitation and the physical inter-connectivity.
Besides the High Level Sub-Committee on Infrastructure, Africa is also addressing its infrastructure deficit through a number of initiatives such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and the Institutional Architecture for Infrastructure Development in Africa (IADA).
An indication of the vast potential that regional and continental infrastructure holds for African and foreign investors is the estimation by the World Bank that Africa needs investment of USD 93 billion per year to address the infrastructure gap.
To its credit, this Africa-India partnership has already recorded significant progress in the area of capacity building in different sectors, including agriculture, media and communication, ICT, trade, SMEs, road transport and energy.
This should be taken as an encouragement that, as reflected in the theme of this Summit, the partnership is being enhanced by our common and shared vision.
We need to ensure that capacity building is focused on further expansion and leads to increases in trade between and amongst the African countries and India as well as in investment in infrastructure development.
By so doing, we will be stimulating employment creation in our different countries.
Allow me to also reiterate the linkages between peace, stability and security to the broader goal of social and economic development. In this regard, India’s efforts are acknowledged and highly appreciated.
This December, South Africa will host the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 17.
As part of the African Union, South Africa recognises the importance of laying a firm foundation for the establishment of a fair and equitable outcome of the current climate change negotiations at the COP 17 and the 7th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
We would like to reiterate that the hosting of COP 17 in South Africa will allow the focus of these negotiations to shift to the continent mostly affected by climate change and afford the continent the opportunity to influence the outcome of negotiations.
We should all move for inclusive and transparent outcomes and should effectively address the challenge of climate change in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
We are steadfast that through partnerships like the Africa-India Forum, IBSA and BRICS, as well as our participation in the G20, we will champion South-South and North-South cooperation in a manner that benefits the African continent to bring about social and economic progress to all poor people globally.
Working in concert with India, we are confident that Africa can push for the conclusion of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round of negotiations so that we may ultimately see a more equitable global trade system.
I would like to reiterate the importance of having a follow-up mechanism that will ensure monitoring and evaluation of progress made.
With strict timeframes, this will assist Member States to remain focused and effectively implement the programmes and projects sponsored by this Forum.
I would like to express our appreciation to His Excellency, Prime Minister Singh and reiterate our commitment to strengthen relations between Africa and India.
In conclusion, allow me to convey our thanks to our gracious host His Excellency, Prime Minister Ato Meles Zenawi and the People of Ethiopia for the warm manner in which they have received us together with our delegation.
With those few words, I would like to mention that there is room for improvement in our time management as leaders of Africa. Time is of the essence and if we are to address these backlogs, that ought to manifest itself in whatever forum in which we find ourselves.
I hope that in future we will have a bit more sense of urgency in our approach and tackle our developmental challenges facing our continent.
I thank you.