Address by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Home Affairs, on the occasion of the closing of the South African Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, Peoples Republic of China
18 Oct 2010
The People’s Republic of China, National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee Vice Chairman Ma Wenpu
Deputy Minister Paul Mashatile
Members of the diplomatic corps
Representatives of the Chinese government
Representatives of big business
Members of the academic corps and students
All protocol observed
I am indeed pleased to address you tonight as we approach the end of the South African Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, which has achieved a place in history because it is the largest fair site at 5.28 km².It has also broken world records in terms of total attendance in the six month period as well as attendance on any single day of the expo.Tonight we mark the closing of the South African Pavilion.
Let me begin by thanking the Chinese government for hosting this expo in which South Africa was delighted to participate.We also appreciate your support for providing space for Africa to host a joint African pavilion.
South Africa was always committed to its participation in the Shanghai Expo since both countries are strategic partners.The theme of the expo, “better city, and better life” is pertinent for most of us in the world, but especially those in the developing countries who are striving to improve the lives of all their people. In addition, China has emerged as one of the leading global economic drivers, in recent years.
We are all aware of the global financial crisis in 2008, followed by an economic recession of unprecedented proportions.While economists suggest we are on the road to recovery, this is uneven and most countries have not fully recovered their former financial and economic strength.A recent International Monetary Fund report indicated that most emerging economies fared better during this crisis than developed countries.It is clear that China has lessons to teach the world to continue growing at the rate it has been able to.We can all learn.
Ladies and gentlemen
As we commemorate the closing of the South Africa Pavilion branded, “South Africa: The rise of the modern economy. Ke Nako”, it is important to review our objectives for participating in the largest trade expo in the world.
With the 2010 FIFA World Cup commencing in South Africa a month after the expo opened on 1 May 2010, South Africa was afforded another wonderful opportunity to present itself to the world.For the month that we hosted the greatest event on earth, not only did we showcase our expertise and ability to host such events successfully but for the 30 days of the tournament, as the world watched the games, South Africa, its people and splendor, was the subject of intense focus not only in the 31 participating countries but further afield, in the more than 200 football loving countries around the world.
During this time, South Africa was more than the rainbow nation, it was a nation united under a single flag and anthem, a developing nation capable of hosting the world successfully and through this we were able to rebrand our country as one of excellence.Young people around the world were also exposed to a South Africa that was real, a South Africa with limitless potential and the ability to be anything. Indeed during this month the phrase, “Together we can do more,” transcended the words.
This expressed the future of our country, something to which we should all aspire, working towards a common goal to ensure tomorrow is better than today. As we opened the South African Pavilion we had a further opportunity to highlight our industrial, scientific, medical and technologically advanced country.Let me take a moment to mention some of our most significant achievements:
Can we ever forget that the world’s first heart transplant was conducted in Cape Town, the city which is home to Table Mountain, currently aiming to be included amongst the new seven wonders of the world?
In 2008 we showcased our prototype of an electric car, Joule, at the Paris Car Show.It was earlier this year showcased at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland.Joule is expected to go into production at the end of 2012. It is anticipated that about 30 000 units will be manufactured in the first year with up to 50 000 units by 2015, almost 90 percent of which would be built for the international export market.
We currently host the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) which is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. SALT is able to magnify distant stars, galaxies and quasars a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye - as faint as a candle flame at the distance of the moon.
Our country is also currently bidding to host the largest terrestrial telescope on earth, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in the Karoo in the Northern Cape. The SKA will be a radio telescope which, rather than seeing light waves, will make pictures from radio waves.South Africa has already demonstrated its excellent science and engineering skills by designing and starting to build the MeerKAT telescope as a pathfinder to the SKA.
The first seven dishes, KAT-7, are complete and have already produced its first pictures. MeerKAT is attracting great interest internationally, more than 500 international astronomers and 58 from Africa submitted proposals to do science with MeerKAT once it is complete.The technology being developed for MeerKAT is cutting-edge and the project is creating a large group of young scientists and engineers with world-class expertise in the technologies which will be crucial in the next 10 to 20 years, such as very fast computing, very fast data transport, large networks of sensors, software radios and imaging algorithms.
When South Africa decided to participate in the expo, it intended to use its 2000 m² pavilion in which to concentrate this expertise and potential, thus projecting it to the world.
Has this been achieved? To date, 3.5 million people have visited the South African pavilion with 10 million passing through the joint African pavilion.We have often pronounced that Africa’s time has come and that the 21st century will be the African one. Just looking at these figures, it is clear that there is immense interest in Africa in general and South Africa in particular.This interest must be harnessed to ensure that the world responds to South Africa’s invitation that it is open for business and ready to serve as a gateway to the rest of the continent.
Through its participation at the expo, South Africa became part of a dialogue around key topics from better housing and efficient cities to investment opportunities in our priority sectors of mining and minerals, information and communication technology (ICT), agro-processing, defence, security, energy and resources.We are also interested in exploring ways in which to turn our economy into a green one.China is already making great strides in this regard.
We are grateful that South African business people heeded government’s call to participate in the expo.In the area of defence and security, we had 13 exhibitors, 33 exhibitors from the agro-processing industry, 22 from the ICT, engineering and energy sector and four from the design and textile industry. Seventy-two exhibitors therefore participated in the expo over the six month period.
Products showcased ranged from, inter alia, wines, dried fruit, processed agricultural products, ostrich leather and other products, olive oil products, rooibos products, the aerospace, defence and helicopter equipment, biometric access control and safety equipment, coal, petrochemical products, telecommunication services, handmade bags, shoes and garments.The diversity of these products speaks to the many possibilities South Africa has to offer in various sectors.While it is too early to assess the impact participating in the expo had on the South African economy, I am certain that the exposure these exhibitors received internationally while at the expo will soon translate into positive developments for South Africa.
We have also realised that South Africa will have to export less raw materials and more beneficiated goods which will enable us to increase export revenues as well as build a skills base that would lead to the upliftment of our people.We will therefore be building a more sustainable economy while investing in our human capital.Through our interactions with the Chinese government we have realised that the development of our people must be inextricably linked with the diversification of our economy to ensure long term economic growth and development.It is our firm conviction that if we are to truly improve the lives of all our people, we have to ensure a sustainable economy built on a foundation of competent, able minded, tenacious and patriotic citizens.
As we conclude our participation in the 2010 Expo, we reiterate our invitation to business to become an integral stakeholder in government’s priority to improve the socio-economic conditions of our people. As governments, South Africa and China we have put in place all the necessary safeguards to ensure well-regulated financial exchanges.
In South Africa we have also upgraded our telecommunications and transport infrastructure which includes amongst others a new international airport in KwaZulu-Natal, this legacy of the World Cup will improve ability to provide world class support to any investor in our country.South Africa’s latitudinal position also enables you to speak to both the east and the west on any business day. It is now the responsibility of our partners in business and investment to exploit opportunities for cooperation.
We have signed a waiver agreement exempting those with official and diplomatic passports from requiring visas.We will now have to work on facilitating the movement of businesspeople to and from our respective countries.
As we close our Pavilion, I take this opportunity to invite people of China and indeed the world to visit us in any capacity or context business, academia and tourism. Our conference and medical tourism is also gaining a reputation for excellence.
I invite you to now enjoy the rest of this evening with us during which we will showcase some of what South Africa has to offer in terms of music, fashion and design.This softer side of our offering to the world, coupled with what I have already highlighted makes us an exciting investment destination.
Welcome to South Africa, we are open for business.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
18 Oct 2010
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