“Africa is rising — let the South African corporate world become part of the story of the rising of the African continent,” said Thabo Mbeki, the former ANC leader and South African president.
“That means looking beyond something called the bottom line.”
Mbeki said there were still obstacles facing Africa but that a lot had been achieved and political cohesion on the continent was important. The former ANC leader who had been ousted by Jacob Zuma, often referred to this dream of an “African Renaissance” while he was still president.
Speaking at the Old Mutual Wisdom Forum dinner in Johannesburg, Mbeki said realising that there were problems was already a step in the right direction of unlocking the wealth of the African continent.
“I think the first and most positive thing happening in this continent is the recognition that we have these particular challenges,” he stated.
“The recognition that we have these challenges means you have taken the steps to fighting these challenges.”
He said other countries were investing in Africa because the “political risk” was less.
“I have a sense that over a period of time… political risk has been diminished.”
Part of diminishing the risk was consciousness, according to Mbeki.
“All of us or many of us are very conscious of a bad past. A bad past of wars… All negatives,” he said.
“A majority of people say we don’t want to go back.”
Mbeki said there had been a commitment on the African continent to stop the outbreaks of violence.
Mbeki said it was not only important to take steps to stop the fighting but to ask questions on why the fighting started in the first place.
Africa was rich in resources and there was competition, he said.
“A lot of the time the reason for conflict is the failure amongst ourselves to build a common political cohesion,” he said.
Meanwhile, business scientist Dr Anil Gupta said that the youth had a big role to play in Africa rising.
“Young people are more demanding,” he said.
“The young people of Africa are an asset in more ways than one.”
Africa should be careful of complacency and slowing down.
“Hopefully the young people are less complacent because they are more informed,” he said.
Gupta said there was a “resource curse” — wealth from commodities was held by a minority while the vast majority remained unemployed.
Manufacturing should become an area of investment, he said.
“A vast majority of the poor are not going to become IT workers,” he said.