H.E. Mr. Duncan Moopelo Sebefelo, Chargé d’affaires of the South African Embassy in Stockholm, addressed the BRIX seminar “The New Africa Emerging” on December 5, 2019 in Stockholm.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Firstly, let me take this opportunity on behalf our Embassy to express our gratitude to the Chairperson of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden and his team for inviting our Embassy and for organising this seminar.
We view the seminar as an opportunity to exchange ideas and share information on the new opportunities thrown-up by the ever changing global environment.
Allow me to steer away from the suggested topic “The new Africa is emerging”. Purely because I think we should focus instead on the question “How Africa can advance its Strategic Priorities through the opportunities presented by the BRI?
The African continent has in varying degrees over a long period of time consistently not only grappled with the question of how to develop Africa but has produced ideas and programmes of how to deal the continental economic and political developmental challenges.
In this context arises the question of how to advance the continent strategic interests in the light of the BRI? Africa’s challenge has always been and still remains lack of implementation of ideas and programmes generated at various levels.
As it was mentioned earlier, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is geared to connect over 65 countries, at a cost of approximately $1 trillion, with the aim of improving the connectivity between China, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
South Africa believes that the scale and the approach of the Belt and Road Initiatives provide a rare opportunity for Africa to advance its programmes, especially the infrastructure development programmes.
Belt and Road Initiative also coincides with Africa’s dream to achieve high-levels development by 2063. South Africa has actively contributed to the development and adoption of this Vision, which represents Africa’s 50-years shared strategic framework for people-centred, inclusive growth and sustainable development.
This vision is articulated in the seven agreed to aspirations which include:
- A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
- An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism; including free movement of people, capital, goods and services;
- An Africa of good governance, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law, including the entrenchment of democratic values, universal principles of human rights and gender equality;
- A peaceful and secure Africa, inclusive of the capacity to protect its citizens and interests, through a common defence, foreign and security policy;
- An Africa with a strong cultural identity, values and ethics; where our diversity in culture, heritage, languages and religion shall be a cause of strength;
- An Africa whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its women and youth; characterized by empowered women and youth; and
- Africa as a strong, resilient and influential global player and partner, through being an active and equal participant in global affairs; and financing its own development.
Beyond the above mentioned aspirations, African Heads of State adopted in 2012, a Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA), which identifies priority regional infrastructure projects to be built by 2040 designed together with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Furthermore, Africa has been driving the re-industrialisation of the continental economy to improved connectivity and diversification of energy sources, technology transfer and skills development likely to be greatly enhanced by the Belt and Road initiative.
Bilaterally, South Africa has already agreed with the People’s Republic of China to incorporate the key elements of Agenda 2063 in our First Ten-Year Implementation Plan.
With improved infrastructure, enhanced trade facilitation, reduced costs, greater efficiency and investment, there is significant scope for greater intra-African manufacturing trade to take shape significantly presenting a compelling case for Africa to have a coordinated approach towards the Belt and Road Initiative.
Belt and Road Initiative bring the world closer to favourable conditions for global peace and security. However, if our collective priorities are not focused on peaceful coexistence through socio-economic development, we will not achieve a just and sustainable world order.
If we shift our focus from power-play to simple things that relate to the livelihood of ordinary global citizens such as access to health facilities, healthy nutrition, security, adequate housing and development means peaceful co-existent and cooperation amongst nations is within reach.