African countries must invest in their ports and connecting infrastructure for regional growth, president tells Terminal Operators Conference Africa 2017
President Jacob Zuma urged African countries on Tuesday to develop their ocean economy, saying it was one of the fastest ways to boost growth.
He was opening the inaugural Terminal Operators Conference Africa 2017 at the Durban International Convention Centre on Tuesday.
It is the only major international exhibition and conference in the world that focuses on showcasing port and terminal technology operations.
Zuma said it was correct that the conference was held in KwaZulu-Natal — a province with a maritime industry that spanned sectors such as freight and logistics‚ ancillary maritime support services‚ tourism and leisure‚ marine energy and fishing‚ aquaculture and mariculture. The province has two of the busiest ports in Africa and the southern hemisphere — Durban and Richards Bay — which have positioned it as a trade gateway into SA and the African region.
“An efficient port is very important for any country as it acts as a conduit for global and intraregional trade‚” he said.
“Due to the high dependence on external trade‚ productive and efficient ports are critical for Africa’s growth and to maintain the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative.
“To grow intra-Africa trade‚ we need to see many coastal Africa countries investing in their ports and connecting infrastructure to link with inland communities,” Zuma said.
Due to Africa’s underdeveloped manufacturing capacity‚ the region’s inclination to export raw materials and import finished goods had increased, the president said.
“To correct this anomaly‚ Africa needs to develop her manufacturing capabilities and achieve industrialisation.”
He said the conference was in line with SA’s foreign policy of contributing towards a prosperous continent through an increase in intra-Africa trade.
“The reality is that the movement of goods‚ services and means of production within the continent is hindered by the lack of sufficient infrastructure.
“I am leading efforts through the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative to ensure that there is economic connectivity in our continent.”
Written by Bongani Mthethwa for business today on 6/12/17, edited by Amy Smith (NIAS)