Address to Corporate Council on Africa’s “Attracting Capital to Africa” Summit, Chantilly, Virginia, USA – 1997/04/19

Chairperson,
Honourable Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen

 

It is not given to every generation that it should be present during and participate in the act of creation. I believe that ours is privileged to occupy such historic space.

Five years ago, many in this room would not have agreed that the people of Africa would have found it within themselves to end the system of apartheid peacefully, to queue one after the other, black and white mixed together, for hours on end, under the African sun, to decide on a government of their choice.

Many would have thought it insane that the thought would occur to these Africans, both black and white, that they should initiate and sustain a multiplicity of efforts to create a new South Africa, based on forgiveness, national reconciliation, non-racialism and national unity.

Indeed, the very notion of victory over white minority domination, resulting in the black oppressed majority participating in deciding the destiny of all the people of South Africa, was a thing which even the so-called experts on Africa seriously doubted.

All this has happened. Even I stand here today as a product of that process. The world has termed these extraordinary processes, an unprecedented miracle.

As Africans, we are moved that the world concedes that miracles of this order can come out of Africa, an Africa which in the eyes of the same world is home to an unending spiral of anarchy and chaos, at whose unknown end is a dark pith of an utter, a complete and unfathomable human disaster.

Out of this same Africa, a new star of hope has risen over that part of it, which is described as Angola.

Only a few days ago, parties that had fought against each other for decades, as deadly enemies, came together to form a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, to serve the greater good of the millions of Angolans who have been victim to the pestilence’s of war, including disablement, displacement, degradation and death.

Those who know what Angola was and what Angola is, will agree with us that this is a new African miracle.
We are privileged to be witness to a gripping and epoch making contest which assumes many forms and involves many and all layers among the people of Zaire, to give a new birth to their country.

As Africans, we have a vision, a hope, a prayer about what will come in the end. We see a new Zaire, perhaps with a new name, a Zaire which shall be democratic, peaceful, prosperous, a defender of human rights, an exemplar of what the new Africa should be, occupying the geographic space that it does, at the heart of our Africa.

Much is now written about Zaire. Daily events assume proportions of permanence. The confounding ebbs and flows of social conflict are seen as defining moments.

And yet, as Africans, we would like to believe that we know that, at the end, what all of us will see, thanks to the wisdom of the people of Zaire themselves, is not the heart of darkness, but the light of a new African star.

Once more, out of Africa, out of these towns which have joined the vocabulary of places that are part of our common knowledge, Goma, Kisangani, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa, a new miracle slouches towards its birth.

But still, outside of our continent, the perception persist that Africa remains as of old, torn by interminable conflict, unable to solve its problems, condemned to the netherworld.

Those who have eyes to see, let them see. The African Renaissance is upon us. As we peer through the looking glass darkly, this may not be obvious. But it is upon us.

What we have been talking about is the establishment of genuine and stable democracies in Africa, in which the systems of governance will flourish because they derive their authority and legitimacy from the will of the people.

The point must be made that the new political order owes its existence to the African experience of many decades which teaches us, as Africans, that what we tried did not work, that the one-party states and the military governments will not work.
The way forward must be informed by what is, after all, common to all African traditions, that the people must govern!
Since 1990, more that 25 sub-Saharan countries have held democratic elections. This is what we mean when we talk of a process on our continent, perhaps seen through the looking glass darkly, which affirms an indigenous and sustained movement towards the elimination of the failed systems and violet conflicts which have served to define the continent in a particular way in the eyes of many in the world, including this country.

There exists within our continent a generation which has been victim to all the things which created this negative past. This generation remains African and carries with it an historic pride which compels it to seek a place for Africans equal to all the other peoples of our common universe.

It knows and is resolved that, to attain that objective, it must resist all tyranny, oppose all attempts to deny liberty by resort to demagogy, repulse the temptation to describe African life as the ability to live on charity, engage the fight to secure the emancipation of the African woman, and reassert the fundamental concept that we are our own liberators from oppression, from underdevelopment and poverty, from the perpetuation of an experience from slavery, to colonisation, to apartheid, to dependence on alms.

It is this generation whose sense of rage guarantees Africa’s advance towards its renaissance.

This is an Africa which is already confronting the enormous challenge of uprooting corruption in African life. The insistence on such notions as transparency and accountability addresses, in part, this vexed question.

On this, as on other questions on which the continent succeeded, however difficult they may have seemed, we are convinced that victory is certain.

The difficult period from which our continent is emerging, imposed on Africa an enormous brain drain. Many among our best prepared intellectuals left to seek better lives in countries such as the United States.

As Africa achieves its rebirth, so will these, who have better possibilities to create something new in the continent of their origin, be encouraged and attracted to return to the challenging and satisfying life of the reconstruction and development of a motherland revisited.

The world investor community has understandably asked that as Africans we must establish the conditions to enable them to take rational business decisions to make long term investments in Africa.

We are saying that many African countries, as you heard yesterday and will have heard today, are doing precisely that. And we are arguing that what we are witnessing is a sustained process of historic importance.

This Summit, held under the aegis of the Corporate Council on Africa affords us an opportunity critically to examine one of the key pillars necessary for the success of the African Renaissance – the economic regeneration of the continent.

In addition to the social and political issues we have already addressed, Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the continent have also embarked on a process of economic reform, which is necessary and vital, if the continent is to succeed in attracting a growing slice of foreign investment.

We want to move beyond the current situation where Africa accounts for a small portion of all foreign capital flows to the emerging markets. Already the success of recent reforms is apparent in the sub-region’s accelerating GDP growth, which has reached an average of 4% in 1995 compared to 1.4% in 1991-1994.

This is still way below what we would like to see. Given the challenge we have to address, none of us should be satisfied with an average growth rate of less than 10 percent for the continent as a whole.

It is clear to all of us that we cannot achieve this sustained rate of development unless Africa succeeds to attract the necessary international private sector capital and directs such domestic capital as it can generate to productive uses.

With regard to economic reform, there are many issues which are of common concern, including the liberalisation of trade, the reform of financial, commodity and other markets, the functioning of multilateral institutions, development assistance and resource transfers from the developed to the developing world.

We are interested that these matters be discussed in a atmosphere which recognises the legitimate interests of the poor.
In this context, we also recognise the importance of our own, African business sector, which has a critical role in continuing the African Renaissance into the 21st Century, capable of both acting on its own and in partnership with international investors.
For instance, the exploitation of the continent’s huge mineral resources, which is currently one of the most important growth sectors of the African economies, can no longer be the preserve of companies from outside of our continent.

But our message to our fellow delegates at this conference who come from outside of Africa, is that the moment has come when you should suspend your disbelief.

Africa has and is readying itself for growth and development, fuelled by her own efforts and the profitable and safe injection of international private capital.

From good conference and the warm interaction we always manage to have among ourselves as human beings, let us do what we have to do together to achieve the sustained development of Africa.

As all other peoples, ours demand a better life. This requires of our governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations that they continue to work ceaselessly towards meeting people’s basic needs in jobs, welfare, education, health, the alleviation of poverty and so on.

Reforms that seek to undermine the continent’s medium and longer term ability to discharge its responsibility to its peoples in these areas on a sustained basis will lead to frustration and renewed social turmoil.

We are encouraged by and welcome the steps taken by members of the US Congress to sponsor the “Trade and Investment Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa” legislation that seeks to create a more coherent trade and investment policy between the US and Africa.

The convening of this Summit has afforded all of us the possibility to interact with the leaders of this country to ensure that the subsequent legislation both meets the concerns which inspire his legislation and responds to African aspirations.

We are certain that this process will bear mutually beneficial results.

As we meet here today, the African continent is hard at work striving to convince the world that it is time that, for the first time, the Olympics are held on our continent. The Bid by the City of Cape Town for the Olympics in 2004 is, in reality, an African bid.

Apart from the fact that Cape Town can in fact successfully host the 2004 Olympics, we believe that the time has come for the rest of the world to demonstrate its commitment to the African Renaissance by awarding the Games in the year 2004 to the African Continent.

Africa’s time has come.

We should no longer allow the situation where the world records growth and development and Africa communicates a message of regression and further underdevelopment.

The new century must be an African century.

As it begins, the Olympic Games must be hosted by the African continent.

Africa needs your support to carry through the difficult and complex task of achieving her renaissance.

Africa awaits your arrival at the southernmost point of our continent to celebrate the prowess and excellence of athletic achievement which belongs, not least, to Africa’s own youth.

 

THANK YOU!

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