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South Africa: President Zuma Tells SA's Good Story
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Country: South Africa
Created: Aug 28, 2014

The number of people living in absolute poverty has been reduced and 16 million were receiving social assistance from the state in the form of grants.
Foreign Direct Investment in South Africa was growing with130 foreign companies, last year, entering the country for the first time or had expanded their investments, contributing to a total direct investment inflow of 8.2 billion US dollars, which is double the figure for 2012. Inflation has been reduced and the tax base had been expanded more than sevenfold. The market capitalisation of businesses on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange grew eightfold. Not bad for a 20-year-old, said President Zuma.
“We have made enormous strides in expanding access to free education, housing, electricity, clean water and sanitation to people who did not have these basic services before.
“We increased our gold and foreign exchange reserves from three billion to 50 billion US dollars. We really have a good story to tell about 20 years of South Africa’s democratic rule,” he said.
But even the best democracies in the world have their own challenges. Even the United States has its own problems. So does South Africa. And on Monday President Zuma knew he had to tell the large press contingent how the government in Pretoria was dealing with the socio-economic challenges that still persist in the democratic South Africa. He had to pre-empt questions on unemployment and inequality.
Unlike Mandela, who inherited a divided nation and a weak economy, Zuma was presiding over a South Africa that was in a much better position economically. GDP has grown from 136 billion US dollars to 400 billion US dollars.
On Monday, he faced the highly critical America press and had to share with them how the government planned to sustain its economic growth and reduce the high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality that still exist in the country more than two decades after Mandela made a speech in the same venue in Washington.
“We are the first to admit that we still have a long, hard road ahead of us as we confront the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Fortunately, we have a roadmap in the form of our National Development Plan Vision 2030,” President Zuma said in reference to the policy blueprint that offers a long-term perspective for the country.
He said by 2030, poverty should be a thing of the past, unemployment should be reduced and growth should average an annual 5.4%.
“These are not easy targets, but with determination and hard work, nothing is impossible,” he said.
Adding that even with its current challenges, South Africa had a sound economy, stable banking sector and a vibrant population, all ingredients of a growing nation.
African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
The President spoke of a vision for Africa’s biggest and most vibrant economy and painted a picture of country that was now more open to investment. The United States, he said, is one of the countries that still invest heavily in South Africa as it works towards a target of a five percent economic growth by 2019. About 600 US companies investing in the South African economy.
“The presence of these companies demonstrates that South Africa is a viable investment destination.
“We look forward to the further expansion of trade and investment opportunities with the US and other key markets.
“The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been a powerful instrument in achieving this goal.
“Over 95 percent of our exports get into the US markets through AGOA.
“While opening up markets for our goods, AGOA has also been opening up and helping to grow new markets for American goods and services.”
AGOA is dominating talks this week as African leaders, attending the US Africa Summit in Washington, want to persuade President Barack Obama and US legislatures to extend the programme for another 15 years.
President Zuma said AGOA had managed to boost trade between the US and Africa and said the continent’s exports to the US had grown because of the programme.
Africa was now working to integrate its economies and to boost regional trade.
“We are promoting industrialisation and power generation. We are developing transport infrastructure to get our goods both to overseas markets and to the new internal markets that we are creating. Together as African countries, we are making progress in all these areas,” said President Zuma.
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