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Tue May 31 16:08:54 SAST 2016

Africa needs to rely on itself for growth, not trips to Davos

The Times Editorial | 25 January, 2016 00:04

South Africa and the continent should seriously consider holding their own annual economic forum and rely less on visits to Davos.

Although Africa is inextricably linked to the global economy, its neighbouring states should look to each other to kick-start their economies.

Whether last week's visit to the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, by President Jacob Zuma to sell South Africa to the world will benefit our economy remains to be seen.

While at Davos, Zuma tried to reassure world and business leaders that South Africa was on a sound economic footing. He made a commitment to maintaining policy certainty, fiscal discipline, macro-economic stability and the promotion of inclusive growth and development.

Judging from Zuma's statements, we must cross our fingers and hope that someone, somewhere will sympathise with us and invest in our economy.

We should seek new markets and fight to keep those we already have, but will have to continue to beg the world to do business with us.

Economists are already writing our economic growth down and the coming year will be a test of how capable our elected leaders are at thinking outside their long-established comfort zones.

Chinese demand alone will not help us out of this economic downturn but the continent's collective efforts might. We have the resources and manpower to make Africa a preferred investment destination.

Although it is important to speak to global players, South Africa and the continent should also look inward and convene their own "Davos'' gathering.

Africa will remain a mere spectator in the global economy while content merely to be a supplier of raw materials.

It will achieve true growth the day its neighbouring countries prioritise trading among each other instead of relying on non-Africans for growth.

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