Pretoria — It is important for the African Union to mobilise business across the continent as it has a role to play in creating wealth and alleviating poverty, says newly-elected AU Commission chairperson and Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
"Our vision says that the union must be driven by its people, its citizens and citizens do not only mean politicians or non-governmental organisations but it means the entirety of the citizens. Business is a very important part of that sector that has to drive the union," said the minister, during a meeting with the Black Business Council in Pretoria on Thursday.
It was important for business to get involved in alleviating poverty, as well as creating wealth and trade in Africa.
Business needed to find its role in contributing to the integration of the African continent and ensuring that intra-African trade becomes a reality.
These were issues for discussion not only as South African business but business across the continent, Dlamini Zuma stressed.
She highlighted the need for Africa to be united so that it could take advantage of the opportunities available.
"If you look at our countries individually, those opportunities disappear. The population of Africa is now a billion - that is a huge population. It's useful as a billion but once you start breaking it down to individual populations it becomes meaningless therefore it's important to look at ourselves as a united Africa," she added.
This population needed to work and possess skills in order to be a big driver for economic growth.
She said Africa was at an advantage because the continent had a young population while Western countries had an aging population.
"A united continent is going to be more profitable to business than a divided continent - that's one of the major areas that we must be looking at collectively. We have to also look at how to make sure that our people are skilled and can take advantage of what is in Africa," the minister said.
President of the Black Business Council Ndaba Ntsele said the council's plans were not restricted to South Africa.
"Our ambition is no longer in South Africa. We are looking at upscaling some of the countries north of our borders ... It's high time as South Africans...we see ourselves partnering with the rest of the continent to create wealth and also alleviate poverty," he said.