Johannesburg, 17 August 2017 – Political leadership in Southern African can either advance or hinder economic growth in the region, according to Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba.
Mr Nyatsumba said well-led countries with clear, business-friendly policies, with leaders who forged a strong partnership among government, business and labour tended to perform much better economically and to be magnets for foreign direct investment.
He said that given the crucial role played by inspirational political leadership, the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba 2017 will critically review the degree to which political leadership in South Africa and the rest of the region advances or hinders growth. The conference will be held at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton from 14-15 September.
“The role of political leadership in economic growth is an important topic because, in order to attract foreign direct investment and to ensure strong economic growth, governments in the region must be at the forefront of efforts to increase market sizes, boost intra-regional trade and enhance the competitiveness of industries. Our view is simple: countries in the region are not owed a favour by anyone. Instead, they are in direct competition with many others around the world for investment, tourism and many other opportunities,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
He said that, compared to other regions in the world, trade within Africa remained at relatively low levels, despite various commitments by political leaders to improve the situation. This did not bode well for sustainable economic growth in the continent.
Mr Nyatsumba pointed out that Africa was by far the biggest export destination for South Africa’s metals and engineering sector. Regional integration has been at the centre of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) economic development agenda, which is in line with the ambitions of the African Union (AU) which is now championing the Continental Free Trade Area. The AU counts regional integration among its flagship projects. In addition, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development encourages the harmonization of regional and national policies on infrastructure, market development and trade.
Mr Nyatsumba said the simplification of customs procedures and the development of regional infrastructure were some of the initiatives governments in the region could embark upon in order to accelerate intra-regional trade.
Speakers lined up to answer the question, at the conference, whether political leadership in the region advanced or hindered economic growth include Zimbabwean academic and commentator Dr Ibbo Mandaza, businesswoman Dr Mamphela Ramphela and ANC National Executive Committee member and Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) CEO Mr Joel Netshitenzhe.
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