“We need to do more than what we are doing. The efforts that Africa is making are good but we need to do more to ensure we move with speed to realising our goals as set out in the plan,” the President said in Durban on Thursday.
He was responding to a wide-range of questions at the opening of the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) underway at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre.
Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.
President Zuma challenged African leaders to ensure that young people become part of the plan through their participation in government, as well as the African Union.
In his recent reshuffle of government, President Zuma appointed several young people to serve as ministers and deputy ministers, a move he said on Thursday was aimed at increasing the capacity of government to respond to various issues facing South Africa.
Young people important stakeholders
He said the youth had been clear in calling for leaders to address issues of exclusion in equality, poverty and unemployment. Young people were an important stakeholder because Africa is a youthful continent.
President Zuma said opening opportunities for young people would also help the continent in its integration, adopting new technology and ensure a prosperous Africa.
“There is more prospects now than any other time to attain our goals. Africans are working together, we are making efforts to build infrastructure that connects us to make the movements of goods and people to be easy -- something that is on the Agenda 2063 plan.”
The presence of a high number of African leaders at the Durban meeting is being viewed as a sign of unity among the African countries, in the month that the continent is celebrating the formation of the Organisation of African Unity more than 53 years ago. The President has also held several bilateral meetings with the African Heads of State attending the conference.
Growth must be inclusive
Earlier in his speech to the opening session, President Zuma said the summit’s theme of inclusive growth presents an opportunity for the delegates to discuss vigorously the various issues of economic growth and development mindful of the fact that opportunities and growth must not only be enjoyed by a few. He reminded the audience that the global context has evolved since the last summit was held in Africa, Cape Town, in 2015.
“We have witnessed an increase in social discontent amongst citizens globally due to increasing alienation and exclusion. The theme for this year’s meeting is therefore more relevant to the issues facing the world.”
The theme is “Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership”.
President Zuma said other critical challenges facing the world included weak economic growth, management of migration, global security and terrorism.
“Importantly, as leaders we have not addressed adequately how we are going to close the gap between the rich and poor in the world and achieve meaningful inclusive growth. The gap between the developed and developing world remains huge, while the gap between rich and poor also remains wide,” said President Zuma.
This issue of inequality, he said, had been one which world leaders have also grappled with at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, for many years.
“We are pleased that some of these issues are going to be discussed at this forum”.