Africa can forge trade links within, says Gigaba

AFRICA should not sell its soul while seeking new investors for growth‚ Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said in Sandton‚ Johannesburg‚ yesterday.

“Africa must seek greater benefits from the Brics forum‚ and yet we must not sell our soul in order to seek investment‚” he said.

Brics is a trade bloc comprising Brazil‚ Russia‚ India‚ China and South Africa.

They provide co-financing for certain infrastructure projects.

Speaking at the Infrastructure Africa Conference‚ Gigaba said African countries were making great economic strides despite global problems‚ with overall growth for the continent projected at an unprecedented 6% a year.

The two main drivers of growth on the continent were commodity exports and the expanding middle class.

This was‚ however‚ not sustainable without investment in manufacturing and infrastructure. When seeking investors‚ companies should look beyond the traditional European investors and consider forging links with other African countries.

He urged delegates to dramatically increase intra-African trade. “We should trust each other‚” he said.

He noted that China was the leading trade partner in Africa‚ surpassing the US. Chinese investment had brought substantial growth to the continent‚ but many agreements had not been negotiated to include other benefits to local societies.

Gigaba cited the “armies” of Chinese workers arriving to build infrastructure as fast as possible‚ because countries were not negotiating this aspect of a contract. He warned that infrastructure development had to be properly coordinated. – Sapa

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