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August 8, 09

NEWS / South Africa Uniquely Positioned to Spur African Economic Growth


By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer

Washington — South Africa’s financial and economic success translates into both a responsibility and an opportunity for the country to help its African neighbors achieve their own development potential, says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 7 to the International Development Corporation, Clinton said “it isn’t easy to find countries with financial and economic policies that have been as sound as South Africa’s,” and the country is “uniquely positioned to advance its own economic trajectory and to propel economic growth on the African continent as a whole.”

African history shows a “painful truth” through its years under colonialism and post colonialism in which its resources “have too often gone to the few and not the many,” Clinton said. “[A]s rich as this continent is, the poorest people in the world reside here.”

African prosperity and opportunity must now be shared and expanded, and no longer “undermined by poor governance and poor leadership and by a shortsighted approach in both the public and the private sectors,” she said.

She told her South African audience that Africa’s current and future economic success “hinges in great extent on the economic success of South Africa. It is both a responsibility and an opportunity for all of you who lead the economic worth in this country.”

The country’s economic policies have given it good credit, low debt and solvent, well-regulated banks. Citing bank failures around the world that contributed to the current global economic crisis, the secretary said, “Frankly, we could learn a lot from your example.”

Looking at the factors behind South Africa’s success, Clinton praised the country’s example of embracing political reconciliation and adopting a “modern, progressive constitution” after its transition from apartheid in the 1990s. Along with economic diversification and adaptation of new technologies, South Africa has also included more of its women as “citizens and entrepreneurs.”

She welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of Gill Marcus as governor of the South African Reserve Bank, as well as the “many examples” of women entrepreneurs in the country.

But, “South Africa has so much more economic potential, and it cannot exist as an island of relative prosperity amid a sea of untapped opportunity elsewhere on the continent,” she said.

The United States is ready to work with South Africa to increase trade and regional integration, develop new technologies, and create more favorable business conditions through good governance and women’s economic empower, she said.

With women constituting 70 percent of Africa’s farmers, an increase in the continent’s agricultural productivity would be “a huge boost.” Africa currently has about two percent of the global world trade. “If we increase productivity by one percent across the board, that would be more than all the aid programs that come into Africa right now,” Clinton said.

She said in September discussions will begin between South African and U.S. leaders with the goal of establishing a bilateral business council to promote greater economic ties.

The Obama administration also wants to support President Zuma’s rural development and infrastructure plans.

Rural poverty takes its toll on urban areas as well when those coming to the cities to find work “reach a dead end, without the training and the preparation for the jobs that are available,” she said.

Secretary Clinton also said she was delighted to visit with former South African president and Nobel Peace prize laureate Nelson Mandela.

It is important, she said, “to continue the work of his life, the work of dialogue, the work of outreach, the work of problem solving and creative resolution and search for solutions on so many fronts.”

http://www.america.gov/st/business-english/2009/August/20090808140016esnamfuak0.8111536.html?CP.rss=true

Tags: corporation, secretary of state,
 




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