South Africa looks forward to tapping into the tremendous opportunities offered by the BRICS Development Bank and hopes it starts functioning soon, the country’s president said on Dec 5.
Addressing the China-South Africa Business Forum in Beijing, Jacob Zuma described his state visit as “fruitful and very successful”.
On Dec 4, the two countries signed 11 agreements to boost trade, investment and agriculture that laid the groundwork for cooperation in the next decade.
“We will collaborate with China to ensure that the Shanghai headquarters and the African regional center in South Africa are established as per agreed timelines,” Zuma said. “We have prioritized the ratification of the agreement establishing the bank. South Africa has also formed committees to make the African regional center operational.”
Established in July, the BRICS bank is aimed at facilitating financial transactions between the BRICS countries and funding infrastructure projects in the member nations－Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Viewing the bank as a possible solution to work as a vehicle to solve the funding gap on the African continent, Rob Davies, the South African minister for trade and industry said his country views the bank as a vehicle to bridge the funding gap in Africa. South Africa is looking to China’s experience and partnership to build infrastructure that connects South Africa to the rest of the African continent and to launch a series of industrial development zones and special economic zones.
Better infrastructure will help promote industrialization and regional integration, which will assist with expediting and facilitating the movement of goods and services within the region, Davies said. The industrial development zones and special economic zones which focus on specific regions with high economic growth potential urgently need investment, he said.
Zuma also sought collaborative efforts to embark on South Africa’s version of a blue economy, Operation Phakisa.
Zuma said Operation Phakisa－which is inspired by China’s Blue Economy development exercise－aims to extract maximum benefit from the economic potential offered by the oceans.
Marine transport, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, marine protection services and ocean governance are some areas listed by Zuma, and said he believes that China’s expertise, scientific research and development of technology could help.
“It is estimated that the ocean has the potential to contribute approximately $17 billion and create up to one million direct jobs,” Zuma said.
Dec 5 also marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela, the iconic first president of post-apartheid South Africa. Commemorating his contributions as the founding father of the country, Zuma also delivered a speech at Tsinghua University on the afternoon of Dec 5, with the theme 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy and the Legacy of Late President Nelson Mandela.