A major industrialisation drive across Africa is needed for the continent to transform its current growth spurt into sustained social and economic development, South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told the South Africa-Turkey Business Forum in Istanbul on Thursday.
Davies said that a general improvement in economic governance across Africa underpinned the growth spurt the continent was experiencing. “However, the challenge facing Africa is to transform that growth spurt into a sustained effort and development.
The business forum included break-away sessions and business-to-business meetings between South African and Turkish business people.
Africa ‘can’t grow on raw material exports alone’
Davies told the meeting that Africa could not continue to grow simply on the basis of the supply of raw materials to fuel industrialisation processes taking place elsewhere.
He stressed that in order to address this, the continent had to engage “in a series of exciting ventures to boost and expand regional integration”.
According to the minister, lack of infrastructure as well as the lack of productive capacity were the biggest barriers to inter-regional trade in Africa.
“To overcome this, we need to promote a significant industrialisation effort across the continent.”
SA, Turkey trade ‘well below potential’
Davies told the forum that bilateral relations between South Africa and Turkey were currently well below their potential.
In 2009, trade between South Africa and Turkey decreased significantly, mainly due to the global economic crisis.
In total, trade decreased from R10.6-billion in 2008 to R5.1-billion in 2009 and further to R4.9-billion in 2010, after an upward trend from 2006 to 2008.
“The trade decrease is of concern, but there is certainly room to grow the volume of two-way trade and investment, create a more diversified balance of SA exports, a greater proportion of beneficiated and higher value goods and services in our export basket to Turkey.”
Later on Thursday, Davies was due to co-chair the second session of the Turkey-South Africa Joint Economic Commission, which promotes trade, investment and economic co-operation between the two countries.