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[Herald Interview] South Africa invested in continental inclusive growth

“South Africa will continue to use its G-20 membership to promote inclusive growth and development.”

As the only permanent African member of the Group of 20, South Africa is committed to the continent’s industrialization and inclusive growth with a strategic policy framework tailored for the 21st century, according to the country’s top envoy to Korea.

Nozuko Gloria Bam said in an interview that Pretoria’s foreign policy rested on its commitment to the values and ideals of pan-Africanism.

The diplomat explicated that the vision entailed “solidarity with people of the South and the need to cooperate with all peace-loving people across the globe in pursuit of shared prosperity and a just, equitable and rules-based international order.”

South Africa coordinates its participation in the G-20 with the African Union and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development, a strategic framework for pan-African socioeconomic development and the continent’s international cooperation, she added. 

South African Ambassador to Korea Nozuko Gloria Bam (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)
South African Ambassador to Korea Nozuko Gloria Bam (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)

“South Africa will continue to use its G-20 membership to promote inclusive growth and development,” she said ahead of Nelson Mandela International Day, which falls on July 18 annually. “As co-chair of the Development Working Group, we will prioritize G-20’s support for addressing the scourge of illicit financial flows, industrialization of Africa and Least Developed Countries, implementation of G-20 Africa Partnership and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

The African Union is the principal institution responsible for promoting continental sustainable development on economic, social and cultural levels, as well as integrating African economies. It comprises 55 member states, including nearly all the territory of the African continent. The continent’s regional economic communities are the building blocks of the union, and help formulate and implement African Union programs.

“South Africa’s diplomacy of ‘Ubuntu’ continues to place cooperation with partners as the thrust of its foreign policy endeavors above all forms of competition,” Bam said, referring to the national philosophy that means “human kindness” or a “universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.” Ubuntu is South Africa’s key foreign policy tenet prioritizing the application of universal human rights.

“South Africa is cognizant of the fact that its development is intertwined with that of the Southern African Development Community in particular, and of the entire continent in general. South Africa seeks to industrialize the regional and continental economies in order to develop its own manufacturing capacity.”

Furthermore, the country seeks to radically alter the colonial and post-colonial patterns through which Africa supplied raw materials for industrialized Western nations.

“Africa should produce value-added goods for exports into the global economy,” she said. “It is only in this way that Africa can address the paradox of a rich-resource continent inhabited by a poverty-stricken population, and make a decisive break with the past.”

Bam explained that Africa was preparing for an era of automation and digitalization through the implementation of Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the social and economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. The continent’s vision is to create “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”

Currently, Africa is in the process of operationalizing the first Ten-Year Implementation Plan as part of Agenda 2063. To help spur continental integration, a tripartite free trade agreement was launched in June 2015 between the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community.

“This FTA, which merges 26 countries into a free trade zone with 625 million people and a total GDP of $1.6 trillion, will contribute immensely towards increasing intra-African trade,” Bam said. “The FTA represents an important milestone towards the conclusion of negotiations for the establishment of the envisaged Continental Free Trade Area,” she added, referring to a separate continental free trade agreement brokered by the African Union and initially signed by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21.

The Continental Free Trade Area aims to create a single market across Africa for goods and services, which would allow the free movement of business persons and investments, and finally lead to a continental customs union and African customs union. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by over 50 percent by 2022.

By Joel Lee (