PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has stressed the urgent need for African governments and the private sector to forge closer working collaboration to tackle the debilitating issue of the continent’s underdevelopment.
“We would have to use the same zeal and unity we used in fighting colonialism and apartheid to break the shackles of underdevelopment,” he emphasised.
Speaking at the launching of the Ghana-South Africa Business Chamber in Accra yesterday as part of his four-day official visit, President Mbeki said, “We have to stick together and work our way out to prosperity together,”
The Ghana-South Africa Business Chamber is an association of South African businesses in Ghana and their Ghanaian counterparts aimed at enhancing trade and investment relations between the two countries as well as to make for equitable and balanced trade and investment.
President Mbeki noted that the continent is saddled with poverty, diseases such as malaria and AIDS, poor health delivery system, poor sanitation and widespread illiteracy, which hinder productivity and economic growth on the continent.
“The reality of the situation is that no single country on our continent can fight these problems alone and for us to succeed, politicians, businessmen and women, civil society and, indeed, all our people need to come together to fight the common cause,” he added.
President Mbeki said it is only through practical, committed and dedicated approach to tackling the problems confronting Africa that the continent would be able to make a headway.
He further called for effort to discourage and put a stop to the theft of national resources, as a way of bolstering the confidence of foreign investors in the respective economies on the continent.
“We have to sing one song to the rest of the world to come and invest in Africa. We will be able to do this when we have been able to overcome the pessimism about African countries in the eyes of the western world,” he stated.
On debt cancellation, President Mbeki, said “We cannot talk of African countries paying the debt they owe when no effort is being made on the part of the advanced economies to check the export of capital from Africa.”
He, however, urged African governments to work together for peace, stability and democratic governance on the continent as a means of ensuring accelerated development.
The South African President said Africans also have the daunting task of putting in place the appropriate mechanisms to reverse the problem of brain drain- which is robbing the continent of her skilled labour- as well as bridging the information technology gap between the continent and the rest of the world.
President Mbeki stressed that it is imperative for South Africa and Ghana to pursue their bilateral co-operation within the context of the overall aim of helping to solve Africa’s probelms.
He, therefore, stressed that it is that the chamber has been established at an opportune time to work in the common interest of the two countries and urged the members to look beyond what is available to them in only the two countries and venture into other areas within the region.
Dr Felix Frempong, Chairman of the chamber, said the chamber would explore opportunities for increased trade and investment relations between the two countries, with the objective of impacting positively on economic growth.