Address by the Minister of Communications, Honourable Ayanda Dlodlo at the Rainbow Push Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund 46th Annual International Convention during the Global and Africa Diaspora Investment Forum
Hon. Terry McAuliffe, Governor of the State of Virginia
Rev Jesse Jackson, Founder and President of Rainbow Push Coalition
Board members of Rainbow Push Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund
Ladies and gentleman
I am grateful for the opportunity to address this important gathering. Engagements such as these are vital vehicles to advance the developing world, and ensure a just and more equitable global system.
Our democratic breakthrough in 1994 ensured socio-political rights including the right to vote and choice of public representatives. What this freedom has failed to deliver, is economic freedom for the majority of South Africans. We still grapple with the crippling apartheid legacy of poverty, inequality and unemployment, hence the recent calls for radical economic transformation aimed at ensuring equitable access to economic opportunities and economic growth.
South Africa's foreign policy outlook has been inspired by our history of struggle and the international solidarity we enjoyed which led to the destruction of the Apartheid regime. We have sought to advance the principles of human rights in pursuit of a better South Africa, contributing to a safer Africa and a better world.
This has informed our investment in peacekeeping missions and Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development throughout the continent. At times we have done this at the expense of our own national interests. For a country that continues to experience high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality, we have often been criticised by many to punch above our weight.
We however remain steadfast in our belief that our future is intrinsically linked to that of the continent and the world and it is our responsibility to provide support and continue to pursue a continental solidarity agenda that seeks to ensure development for all the people of the African continent.
While we have invested heavily in the pursuit of the continental agenda, we have often not reaped the benefits of our investment. The work we have done in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a good example of this. Since 2004, South Africa has supported the UN Peacekeeping mission in the DRC. We have also contributed extensively in development projects through bilateral cooperation in the DRC, ensuring peace and stability. It is common knowledge that we are not the economic beneficiaries of these efforts, instead it is the so called major economies who enjoy the economic dividends through access to mineral resources and economic opportunities in the DRC and other parts of the continent where we have invested in peace and security.
We believe that continental economic integration is the goal that will ensure that Africa rises. As a country, we utilise all international platforms and fora to advance a continental agenda. Be that the G20, BRICS and all other important international groupings, we use these opportunities to sell Africa to the world, in the true spirit of our diplomatic principles of Ubuntu, which loosely translated means Humanity: 'I am who I am because of or through other people'. These principles promote a culture of serving others for the good of all.
International solidarity is the cornerstone of our foreign policy. That is why the African National Congress (ANC) led government continues to pledge solidary with the people of Palestine in their quest for freedom. We do so given our experience in our liberation struggle.
We also continue to pledge our support and solidarity to the people of the Western Sahara in their quest for liberation as the last colony in Africa under Moroccan rule.
South Africa continues to have good relations with many nations in the world, we are the second country in the world to host the highest number of foreign diplomatic missions after the United States. We maintain good relations even with countries we differ with politically and ideologically because we remain respectful of their sovereignty.
Beyond the continent, we have many friends especially those countries who were with us through our liberation struggles such as Cuba.
Cuba supported South Africa and other African Liberation movements under the leadership of Fidel Castro, renowned internationalist and anti-imperialist, who selflessly supported the struggles of the oppressed and the exploited including those needing humanitarian relief and aid.
Whilst many in the United States referred to Castro as a dictator, our very own Rev Jesse Jackson characterised him as a "freedom fighter" and the "poor people's hero."
Castro and the Cuban people stood in solidarity with liberation movements in Africa, supporting our struggle for independence and the international campaign to isolate the apartheid regime.
After we achieved our freedom, Cuba was one of the first to offer material and human resource support. Since then, almost 3 000 South African students are receiving medical training in Cuba. Meanwhile, Cuban engineers are working in South Africa.
The government of South Africa has in the past offered an economic assistance package to Cuba in a form solidarity grants, credit lines and also financial assistance to boost the agricultural sector.
We will continue to provide support to Cuba and other countries like Western Sahara and Palestine expecting nothing in return except to reciprocate the goodwill they showed to South Africa through international solidarity. As beneficiaries of world solidarity, we know too well what it is to want for support and the joy of receiving it.
I have followed with keen interest that the mission of Rainbow Push is to protect, defend, and gain civil rights by levelling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and social justice around the world. I applaud this mission and I commit that South Africa will remain a partner in ensuring that the rights of citizens all over the world are protected. The prophetic words of Oliver Tambo said all those years ago, still bare striking relevance today
"A fight for freedom must go on until it is won, until our country is free and happy and peaceful as part of the community of man, we cannot rest."
I think we can all agree that this is indeed a noble and just cause; and one that all progressive forces must strive to achieve. We live in a fractured world where power and influence reside in the hands of a few. We live in a world beset by injustices. A world where the downtrodden and powerless yearn for a foothold, and a chance at bettering themselves and their communities.
Given this sad reality, the work of Rainbow Push and other similarly progressive formations is essential. Through this work we can give a voice to the voiceless and ensure that the established world not only pays lip service, but actively works to resolve the many pressing challenges of our time.
The role of the diaspora in making this a reality is a crucial one. The many critical voices and thinkers throughout the diaspora have often been at the forefront of bringing about societal change within their various spheres of influence.
African Luminaries such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Thomas Sankara, Oliver Tambo and countless others gave rise to generations of critical thinkers who continue to espouse the vision for a united, inclusive, and more equitable world.
Every generation in the diaspora has of course faced varying challenges based on the prevailing circumstances at the time. But what has remained constant is their desire to make a difference to the lived realities of people both in their country of birth and their ancestral homelands.
Africa is now experiencing a renewed spirit Pan-Africanism, based on the desire to collectively push for continental integration and economic freedom.
I have also noticed that the conversation has become inter-generational, and in many instances the youth are taking the lead in the battle of ideas.
It would be naïve of us to think that the world will change without us giving it a giant nudge. The change we all crave will have to be fought for, we must therefore be organised and resolute in making our voices heard.
We should also be mindful that the clock is ticking. .
Comrades, it is therefore incumbent on us to lead the charge and create the change we want to see.
It is clear that investments and capital are essential ingredients for greater social and cultural change to occur. This must go hand in hand with utilising the technology dividend and ensuring that it benefits everyone.
In the Ministry of Communications, we are actively focussing on ensuring that we empower people to use technology to improve their lives. Technology has invaded every facet of our lives and continues to shape the world of tomorrow.
We stand on the cusp of a new age which could benefit all of humanity, but we must ensure that this technological dividend benefits everyone. If we fail to do this we risk creating a new divide between those with access to information and technology and those without. South Africa is pushing ahead to ensure our obligation to shift from analogue to digital broadcasting which will benefit the country.
This will release limited radio frequency spectrum which is used for the purposes of both broadcasting and telecommunications. It will also lead to a more efficient use of available spectrum since digital broadcasts only require a fraction of the spectrum required by analogue broadcasts.
This will allow for more channels and more content to be broadcast in the same bandwidth as one current analogue channel uses. It will connect rural and urban, rich and poor, thereby ensuring that South African citizens transact and communicate more effectively with the use of technology.
In the South African and in the African context it will be a game changer. It will ensure that even the most isolated communities are connected to the globe and can benefit from technology along with everyone else.
The push towards digitalisation goes hand in hand with government's plan to expand broadband access. Broadband is changing the way we live, conduct business and how South Africans interact with each other and their government.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The African continent and my own country offers many opportunities for investment and growth. The esteemed panel we have here today will in due course unpack the many opportunities on the continent.
I do not want to steal their thunder therefore I will briefly speak on South Africa's investment opportunities.
Despite a slowing global economy, and the recent downgrade, South Africa remains one of the most promising emerging markets especially for those who are risk averse.
We can boast that we are Africa's most sophisticated and diverse economy. Offering a unique combination of highly developed first-world economic infrastructure with a vibrant emerging market economy and a young population, ripe for skills development and training.
It would be remiss of me not to inform all you here today, that South Africa is open for business. There are many reasons why globally partners should invest in South Africa but for today I will give you only 10 reasons why you should do business in South Africa:
We have sound economic policies.
We have created a favourable legal and business environment.
We boast world-class infrastructure including a modern transport network, sophisticated telecommunications and superb tourism facilities.
We offer access to markets with our position at the southern tip of the continent.
At the tip of the continent, we truly are a gateway to Africa, our position allows easy access to the other markets of sub-Saharan Africa
Our trade reform and strategic alliances means that South Africa has trading relationships with more than 200 countries and territories.
The cost of doing business in South Africa is significantly lower.
The ease of doing business in South Africa.
Industrial capability and cutting-edge technology.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also provides a one-stop shop for investors, offering a variety of services to those interested in conducting business in South Africa - ranging from details on how to do business in the country to the different forms that businesses can take.
Services for international investors include:
Investment information: opportunities, incentives, regulations, policies, strategic sectors.
Investment marketing: local and foreign marketing initiatives.
Business facilitation: visas, investment missions, intergovernmental co-ordination, relocations, business introductions, black economic partnerships, financing and incentives.
Outward investment: connections to other African investment promotion agencies, project financing, deal structuring.
We also have a thriving tourism sector. Our hospitality is world renowned, with eight UN World Heritage sites. Our cultural diversity is unparalleled. We invite you to South Africa whether for business or for leisure.
I think you would find that similar prudent policies are in place all over Africa. I can further assure you that Africa is also open for business.
Africa is changing and the world too has amended its outdated and myopic view of our continent. The emergence of the "Africa rising" narrative is long overdue and is a validation that Africa is changing economically, politically and socially.
As a continent we have made integrated and shared growth a priority. Through Agenda 2063 we aim to drive social, economic and political rejuvenation on the continent.
It envisions that in 50 years Africa will be a world leader, setting the standard for inclusive economic development, democratic governance and a just social order.
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), through which African leaders are championing the view that regional integration is the best way for Africa to realise its growth potential, participate effectively in the global economy, and share the benefits of globalisation.
The objective of NEPAD is to consolidate democracy and sound economic management on the continent. Through the Programme, African leaders make a commitment to African people and the world to work together in re-vitalising the continent. It is a pledge to promote peace and stability, democracy, sound economic management and people-centred development, and to hold each other accountable in terms of the agreements outlined in the Programme.
The NEPAD programme has a number of sectoral initiatives namely:
Natural Resources Governance and Food Security
Regional integration, Infrastructure (Energy, Water, ICT, Transport) and Trade
Industrialisation, Science, Technology and Innovation
Human Capital Development (Skills, Youth, Employment and Women Empowerment)
Through this initiative a number of opportunities exist for doing business in the continent such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development (PIDA) which facilitates the implementation of construction projects aimed at transforming Africa into an interconnected and integrated continent.
Esteemed colleagues within all of us lies to power to drive a new narrative around Africa; one of unlimited potential and a renewed hope for a better future.
As I conclude,
I want to again emphasise the importance of us giving hope to the downtrodden and overlooked in the world. We must therefore be at the forefront of driving societal change, whether in be in spurring greater investment into Africa and the developing world. Or in ensuring that the voice of developed nations holds greater sway at international decision making bodies such as the UN.
We must be the vanguard of change movement that exists across borders, and ultimately begins to achiever meaningful social, economic and societal change.
I have no doubt that we will further delve into these issues during our discussions today and for the duration of the convention.
Rainbow Push Highway Africa represents traditional and constantly evolving forms of communications and media that hold the potential to inspire a new African dialogue and discourse that will dispense with long-held prejudices and perceptions and let Africa's dominant storyline of change and development emerge.
I look forward to the Rainbow Push Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund 46th Annual International Convention taking its place in history as a platform where new solutions for a fast changing world were shaped.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Communications