Friday, October 5, 2007
By: Julia N. Opoti
MINNEAPOLIS – The eradication of apartheid and the existence of a government that promotes an open trade policy make South Africa the most suitable African country to invest in, according to the Trade/Economic Consul to the United States, Charles Manuel.
Manuel said South Africa had worked to market itself to foreign investors and as a result was experiencing a surge in economic growth. Over the past couple of years, foreign direct investment has increased eightfold to around 8 billion dollars, he said.
“South Africa is clearly one of the most powerful economies in Africa. Moreover, South Africa has the resident marketing skills and distribution channels imperative for commercial ventures into Africa,” Manuel said.
In a presentation to a group of potential investors at the Pan-African Trade and Investment Summit, Manuel highlighted the success of South African industries that include agro-processing, automotive, chemical and allied industries, electro technical, call centers, clothing and textiles, tourism and mining and metal industries.
Manuel cited South Africa’s sound economic environment and infrastructure as some of the reasons why investors should consider investing in there. He also mentioned that while South Africans made 8 percent of Africa’s population, 50 percent of the continent’s purchasing power could be attributed to South Africa.
Manuel expressed his excitement in intra-trade with other African countries.
“It is in South Africa’s interest that the economies of other African countries experience positive economic growth thus an establishment of a free trade zone in Africa is imperative.”
South Africa’s role in the recently established New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a peer review group that allows African nations to steer and review each other’s economies, gives South Africa a strategic position to work with other African countries in plotting a course for economic growth and poverty eradication.
Inevitably, a member of the audience asked about the effects of South Africa’s economic growth with a large influx of refugees from Zimbabwe. Manuel said that despite reports in the international media, South Africa was actively involved in looking for ways to resolve Zimbabwe’s tragedy.
“Zimbabwe is like a brother to us,” Manuel said. “The South African government is doing everything it can to reconcile the opposition and the ruling party in Zimbabwe.”