African countries want to process their minerals on the continent, rather than export them for beneficiation overseas, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday at the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation Summit (FOCAC) currently underway in Johannesburg.
“We want to prioritise beneficiation and value-addition. In that way, what is buried in the belly of our soil will translate into benefit for the bellies of our citizens,” Zuma told the opening ceremony of the summit, attended by many African heads of state and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We are also keen to explore cooperation with China to ensure the long term viability of African mining and extractive industries in a global market. This is important in light of the declining demand for commodities,” said Zuma, the co-chairperson of FOCAC.
“We meet during a difficult global economic crisis. This affects both our trade outlook as well as investment flows into our countries. This period therefore calls for innovation and resilience to make our economies survive the global meltdown.”
“Also, there is still hope for Africa despite the global economic downturn. African economies and the sub-Saharan region in particular, have some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Importantly, China and African countries share the advantage of having largely youthful populations.”
The high-level FOCAC summit, the first to be hosted on African soil, is being held under the theme: “Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development.” Zuma said the China-Africa cooperation has a long history and was now yielding positive economic results.
“Originally, we were comrades in arms in the quest for liberation and freedom, at the height of colonialism and apartheid. Given that history, it was only natural that Africa has developed a win-win partnership for development and progress with China over the years.
The partnership encompasses cooperation in a number of developmental areas including agriculture, renewable energy, skills training, health, peace and security and infrastructural development,” said Zuma. “These elements align with and are integral to our vision for Africa as outlined by Agenda 2063. Already the partnership is yielding economic results.
China has become Africa’s largest trade partner, and Africa is now one of China’s major import sources and fourth largest investment destination. This partnership can only yield further positive results for Africa’s development The FOCAC summit is being held in Johannesburg on Friday and Saturday.
Zuma told delegates that the summit was happening at a significant moment as the world marks the second anniversary of the death of iconic former South Africa president, Nelson Mandela. “His belief in peace, freedom, democracy, equality, justice and human rights for all must continue to inspire us to work tirelessly each day to build a better Africa and a more just world,” said Zuma. The opening ceremony was also addressed by Chinese president Xi Jinping, African Union Chairperson Robert Mugabe, and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma