The three-day conference is being attended by delegates from various African countries and will look at the overall financial picture of the continent.
Africa hosts some of the fastest growing economies and has established itself as a lucrative emerging market, but the challenges in financial sector growth remain a major task for countries.
The current trends in global markets and in Africa will come under scrutiny, as well as the role that politics play in financial management in these countries.
Cronje said KwaZulu-Natal should have been at the forefront of economic development in South Africa, especially with its noticeable assets, amenities and strategic advantages.
According to Cronje, some of those advantages include, best transport system (road, rail, air, pipe and maritime) in the country and two major ports in Durban and Richards Bay. The province’s ability to manufacture all the sugar needs of the country also bodes well in their favour.
But economists attribute KwaZulu-Natal’s late economic awakening mainly to the political turmoil it found itself in even after the first democratic elections in 1994.
Since the province managed to become more stable, economic activity and development followed.
“The growth of the international and national economy since 2003 also benefited KZN as the volume of exports and imports via our ports increased,” Cronje said.
However, the recent global recession did take a toll on the province, decreasing the province’s gross domestic product. The provincial economy lost about 220 000 jobs from the first quarter up to the fourth quarter of 2009.
Cronje said the recession has provided South Africa with an opportunity to reorient its long-term growth and development policy frameworks.
The MEC will be pleased that capacity and financial building skills also form a part of the agenda at the conference, as her department promotes financial literacy in its campaigns.
Said Cronje: “The link between a lack of financial literacy and poor financial choices is evident, while the connection between poverty, low literacy rates and low financial literacy have also been confirmed through research. Financial literacy is a prerequisite for the successful implementation of the numerous programmes initiated by government.”
The MEC told the delegates that good governance plays an integral role in helping African countries to develop their economies.
“Good governance includes the strengthening of public institutions. That means addressing poor information flows, bad communication, dealing with fraud and deliberate wrongdoing. It means improving the quality of management at all levels,” said Cronje.
The KZN government adopted 21 cost-cutting measures to eliminate unnecessary spending. The projected overspending has been brought down from R5.6 billion to below R1.7b within six months.
“By running a clean government, we create an environment conducive to business. It is clear that KwaZulu-Natal has something unique to offer to Africa and the world,” Cronje added. - BuaNews