‘Great era of opportunity' for ‘still-growing' Africa - Anglo American

19th November 2008 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

The present was a "great era of opportunity" for the "still-growing" Africa to "rise and shine", Anglo American South Africa head Kuseni Dlamini said on Wednesday.

Dlamini told the Africa Investment Forum 2008 in Johannesburg that the continent would continue on a significant economic growth path, despite the setback of the current global financial turmoil.

He said that the additional level of foreign direct investment coming into Africa would enable more of the continent's resource-rich countries to follow in the exemplary footsteps of Botswana, which had used its diamond wealth to invest successfully in education, infrastructure and health.

In the context of the current global economic turmoil that had caused the leading economies of the world to face serious challenges, the chief economist of the World Bank still projected a 5% growth rate for Africa, albeit lower than the previously projected 7%.

"That's a good space to be in," Dlamini said.

There was no talk, he added, of Africa not growing, but rather clear projections of Africa continuing to grow at a 2% lower rate.

"This is a great era of opportunity for Africa to rise and shine in the global scheme of things and to become an economic giant," he said.

Despite the "resource curse" theory, resources could, without doubt, be a force for good.

There were "shining examples" of resources delivering "lasting benefits" for countries, "as well as their people".

Diamond-rich Botswana, he said, had moved from having two secondary schools and 12 km of paved roadway in 1966, to being a country with the fastest per capita income growth rate in the world.

The middle-income country had created a positive environment for sustainable growth and development, and had earned the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa.

That could be repeated elsewhere in resources-rich Africa, he insisted.

ArcelorMittal South Africa group manager Charles Dednam told the forum that sub-Saharan Africa's gross domestic product was expected to increase by 6,1% in 2008, supported by continuing reform efforts.

Dednam said that Africa's monetary policy had become more focused and policy makers more proactive, which was keeping the continent on a growth path, despite the current global financial turmoil.

Rio Tinto vice-president communications Jean Chawapiwa-Pama pointed out that Rio Tinto had advanced promisingly in Africa, where it had exploration programmes in 12 countries and where it was actively looking at opportunities in a further 11 countries.

Chawapiwa-Pama said that the large diversified miner had greenfield exploration efforts on the continent that were directed towards the realisation of bauxite, coal, diamonds and mineral sands opportunities.