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African Renaissance Conference 2017

                                                  

  

 

Premier Zweli Mkhize

  

The Ebandla initiative, based on the ancient Zulu custom ebandla, when elders would come together to discuss matters of community interest, is about drawing upon all of our resources to find a people-centred approach to the challenges facing KwaZulu-Natal and the continent of Africa.

It’s about investing, as a people, in our province and about encouraging our brothers and sisters, who were born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, to devote some of their time and resources to helping us build a better life for all in our province.

In essence, it’s about social cohesion. As Africans, social cohesion is imperative if we are to confront and respond to the wave of Afro-pessimism that is prevalent in the media, emanating from quarters which will have us believe that Africa is doomed to failure. The continent is projected as stumbling from disaster to disaster, rolling towards a future of self-destruction, with no prospects of rescue in sight. Everybody else has had something to say about Africa.

It is time for Africans to speak out confidently and say something about ourselves and our continent. The Ebandla campaign is one forum which offers us a platform to do just that. It enables us to reconnect with people all over the world to highlight our province’s beauty, its potential, its progress, its challenges and its vision for a prosperous future. And, most importantly, it inspires them to become a part of this vision – as it is only our vision for a better Africa and our positive attitude towards ourselves, as the people of Africa, that will save this continent.

Only when we embrace each other, working together to combine all our intellectual and physical energies into a focused endeavour to build our continent, shall we succeed. Part of that focus must rightfully involve re-engaging with the brothers and sisters of our province who live elsewhere. We value their input, the possibility of utilising their skills and networks for the advancement of trade in our province – or simply the tourism revenue they can inject into our economy by holidaying here.  

We have successfully hosted the biggest sporting event in the world, the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which, just a decade and a half ago, would have been inconceivable. We live in a time of hope and self-belief, a time during which the world’s eyes are focusing on Africa with renewed optimism.

One of South Africa's own soccer legends, the late Patrick Ace Ntsoelengoe, once remarked: “South Africa is the land of promise for Africa and we hold the key for Africa's rebirth.”

This is not an arrogant statement but a statement of conviction. As Africans, we need to work with each other and not compete against one another. This is a time for us to rally together to form a united Africa that will be competitive in trade, sports and technology. The development we have yearned for, and worked for, is upon us. There’s a sense of gathering momentum as numerous mega projects that were linked to 2010 have come on stream, strengthening our resolve to sweep away all obstacles and constraints to growth and development. As such, there is a myriad of opportunities in sectors such as construction, tourism, transport and logistics.

Critically, the province has opened its arms to embrace foreign investors in a bid to develop the province’s Information Technology sector. There are endless opportunities to invest in the sophisticated technologies, especially in the areas of sensors, smart cards and satellite technology.

The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope. Let us embrace it in the spirit of togetherness.