by Sanews

Obama and Zuma agree on African growth

Talks focus on trade, business, security

US President, Barack Obama together with President Jacob Zuma shake hands after talks in the Union Buildings in Tshwane on Saturday.

President Jacob Zuma and the President of the United States, Barack Obama, emerged from their meeting in Pretoria on Saturday speaking in one voice on increased trade and investment in Africa.

Zuma received Obama and his delegation at the Union Buildings at the start of the US president's three-day visit.

Their talks focused on boosting trade, business ties and regional security.

Speaking to journalists afterwards, Zuma told Obama that he was visiting Africa at the right time, when the continent was on the rise, shifting from "disinvestment to reinvestments".

Africa was the second-fastest growing region after Asia and had become an attractive market for investment, Zuma said, adding: "Arising out of this visit, we would like to see increased investment in the economy for mutual benefit."

Emphasising the country's position as a financial and logistical gateway to the continent, Zuma tabled bankable projects ranging across infrastructure development, youth skills development, information and communication technology, agriculture and the green economy.

He said investment in these projects underpinned the drive for regional integration, industrialisation and the localisation of supply and manufacturing.

Zuma said the US strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa, launched last year, was "well timed to take advantage of Africa's growing market".

Obama said the country was critical to the US, as it was the gateway to the continent.

Responding to suggestions that the visit was prompted by China's growing influence on the continent, Obama said: "I am here in Africa because the US needs to engage in a continent full of promise and possibilities".

He said the US administration was not threatened by the interest showed by other regions in the continent, adding: "the more the merrier .... I welcome the attention Africa is receiving ... It will help incorporate Africa into the global economy".

Obama noted, however, that relationships should be mutually beneficial and that Africans had to ask questions such as, "Are they hiring African workers? How much [is the] profit?" He noted that the continent had been heavily exploited for its raw materials.

Zuma said Africa had to be part of the global movement, adding that South Africa was willing to work with anyone for the benefit of Africa and towards a united continent.

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