Remarks by President Jacob Zuma at the South Africa-Senegal Business Forum on the occasion of the State Visit by President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal
Your Excellency, President Macky Sall,
Honourable Ministers from both our countries,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to address this distinguished South Africa-Senegalese Business Forum.
This important gathering has been organised to enable our business sectors to explore and enhance business opportunities and thus improve economic cooperation between our two Republics.
The theme of the Forum, which is "Increasing Trade and Investment between South Africa and Senegal", correctly captures our strategic intent.
This Business Forum was preceded by the Joint Commission for Bilateral Co-operation (JCBC) that took place on Friday, the 20th October 2017.
The JCBC serves as a framework to enhance co-operation between our two countries in the economic, commercial, scientific and technological fields.
It is in such bilateral platforms that the government officials carefully set the foundation towards increasing trade and investment between our two countries.
I would like to encourage our officials to speedily conclude the Terms of Reference which will pave the way for the launching of Joint Trade and Investment Committee (JTIC) that will preside over and also implement programmes that are aimed at the facilitation of technical, industrial and investment cooperation between our two countries.
President Sall and myself have endorsed the work of the senior officials and the Ministers. This work of Government signals Senegal's importance to South Africa as a trading partner.
As at the end of December 2017, total trade between our two countries had reached one point eight billion rand.
While we welcome the growth, it is important to add that this trade pattern does not reflect the excellent political relations that our two countries enjoy. It is my sincere hope that this forum has set in motion the work that needs to be done to make our bilateral trade more equitable.
If both the private sector and government through state owned enterprises begin trading more intentionally with each other, then we would be making progress towards realizing Africa's ambition of growing and developing through regional integration. Our efforts to boost intra-Africa trade must be more deliberate.
In this regard, Senegal and South Africa already have a firm foundation from which to increase our bilateral trade. We are already trading in highly beneficiated goods and services such as machinery, vehicles, plastics and chemical products.
We have recognised that in order to address the trade imbalance between our two countries, sourcing linkages with African trading partners need to be established.
In this regard, the Department of Trade and Industry has formed a unit called Trade Invest Africa that is mandated to facilitate the import of African value-added manufactured products into South Africa, amongst other things.
Furthermore, Trade Invest Africa is also mandated to implement an outward investment led approach when engaging other countries on the continent.
Against this backdrop, the number of South African companies that have invested in Senegal should then increase because of the access to capital as well as access to markets and contracts that can be facilitated by Trade Invest Africa.
We are pleased with the significant contribution made by South African companies such as the Standard Bank Group, Black Rhino and Kumba Resources.
The total South African investment of these three companies is worth Three Billion Rand of capital expenditure.
Over one thousand employment opportunities have been created through these companies across wide-ranging sectors such as Financial Services, Transportation and Mining.
The Development Finance Institutions of South Africa have also contributed funding and capital to Senegal.
For instance, the construction of the new Aeroport (Airport) International Blaise Diagne has been co-funded by the Industrial Development Cooperation with six other funders at an estimated amount of five hundred and sixty four million rand. We look forward to the successful completion of the project.
South Africa also wants to take advantage of a range of other opportunities for investment in sectors such as agriculture and agro-processing, infrastructure which includes rail, ports, roads, airports and pipelines, mining, energy and tourism.
Furthermore, our State Owned Enterprises and other development finance institutions such as the Industrial Development Co-operation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation have expressed a keen interest in participating in both industry and infrastructure projects for the benefit of our two countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like us to recall the first president of Senegal when he said "I have always taken care to put an idea or emotion behind my words. I have made it a habit to be suspicious of the mere music of words."
Therefore, the deliberations that we have held today must not end up being mere melody.
We must put action behind our words, so that our efforts can turn our trade, investment and economic dreams into a reality in our lifetime.
As businesspeople you have work to do to ensure visible growth in bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries. We will support you in every way possible as government.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are happy to declare that South Africa and Senegal are open for business!
We wish you all the very best with your deliberations!
I thank you!
Issued by: The Presidency