Programme Director

His Excellency, Mr Jiang Jianguo: Minister of State Council Information Office of China

Media leaders, distinguished speakers and esteemed guests

I am greatly honoured to be invited to this ground-breaking inaugural meeting of the China-Africa Media Summit. I draw from the congratulatory and welcoming message from His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, that was presented this morning to, once again, welcome both our guests from China and fellow African countries to South Africa and Cape Town.

You couldn’t have chosen a better place to host your meeting during this time of the year. Cape Town ranks among the best tourism destinations in the world due to its very rich history and diverse heritage as the ‘Mother City’, scenic landscapes, unique biodiversity, meshing of different cultures, unlimited business and investment opportunities, special mediterranean climate, and many other features. One of the special characteristics that Cape Town shares with all other South African cities is the welcoming and warm people, both South Africans and non-South Africans who regard this part of the world as their home. I sincerely hope you will enjoy your stay here both during and outside of the formal meetings.

It is here in Cape Town that our world renowned icon and the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa, the late President Nelson Mandela, together with many of his fellow freedom fighters, spent many years of their adult lives in Robben Island and surrounding prisons, during their incarceration for fighting against Apartheid colonialism and its associated socio-political and economic ills.

As South Africans we pride ourselves for turning sorrow into joy and painful past into hope for a better future. Today, what used to be a leper island, animal quarantine station and place of isolation and horror for political prisoners – including the legendary traditional leader Makanda Kanxele who was captured in 1819 and never returned – has now been declared a South African Heritage Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to the solidarity of our brothers and sisters from fellow African countries, China and from across the globe. We would not have made it without the vigorous publicity done by fearless journalists and rights activists that put their lives and those of their families at immense risk to contribute to our freedom and democracy in their special ways.

Media owners, editors, journalists, and intelligentsia, you are here to deliberate on a very important and fitting subject matter, that is: A new Win-Win Media Co-operation between China and Africa. As you discuss this topic, you should always remember the critical role and value of media in society as the ‘fourth estate’. At a political level, as most African leaders we appreciate the increasing diplomatic and trade relations with China. I am therefore hoping that as media activists you will be able to strengthen the relationship between Africa and your Chinese counterparts in terms of deepening a new type Sino-African Strategic Partnership.

For a very long time, Africa has been branded as continent of doom; only characterised by malnourished babies, poverty, crime, conflict and squalor. Yes, these problems do exist in our continent like in many other parts of the world and their adverse impact is severe to individuals and communities across our land. However, it is also our duty to tell the good story that would help change the negative narrative to an Africa that is land of opportunities and potential; rich with unique cultural diversity and resources that could be harnessed effectively for the benefit of all our people and contribute to a better world.

Unlike during the days of slavery and colonialism, Africa has a unique opportunity in this conjecture to determine its own destiny and engage in international relations and co-operation as an equal among the nations of the world. I would like to urge all types of media to take advantage of the new ‘Information Technology Revolution’ that has emerged in Africa, whereby more than 80% of her citizens are now connected to cell-phones and related mobile technologies. Our people are not just connected, but they are using technology in ways that have never been imagined before: ranging from keeping in touch with other people, conducting complex financial transactions, accessing critical government and private sector services, accessing news and other useful information, engaging in media debates, mobilising people for social causes, and so forth. Here is an opportunity for media to contribute to development and positive behavioural change by publishing content that is not only informative, but also educational, empowering, and liberating to individuals and communities.

Furthermore, Africa is one of the few continents that are currently experiencing continuous economic growth as measured through average GDP of about 5%, which is projected to continue improving into the future, against the recent global economic recession and financial meltdown. We are all duty-bound to ensure that the benefits of this unprecedented economic growth are translated into real socio-economic development for all our people. It is greatly encouraging that in the recent times Africa has witnessed significant reduction in headline poverty levels due to progressive policies that are increasingly being implemented by African Governments in partnership with their global strategic partners such as the People’s Republic of China.

We appreciate the Chinese people, businesses and government for their interest to partner with African countries through mutually beneficial mechanisms like the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). South Africa is the co-chair of the FOCAC and we are looking forward to hosting the Johannesburg Summit and the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC in Johannesburg from 3 to 5 December 2015. The theme for the summit is ‘Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development’. The FOCAC meeting with be an opportunity to further stimulate growth and unlock new opportunities between China and Africa on trade and cooperation. Africa and China have forged strong economic relations, particularly since 2009 when China became the continent’s largest trading partner. The relationship between China and Africa is based on more than just trade, it is a partnership that is aligned to Africa’s development goals. Media leaders from both China and Africa also stand an opportunity to frame win-win solutions that would deepen this positive trajectory of co-operation and development.

In January 2015, the Heads of State and Governments of the African Union adopted the ‘Development Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want’ – with a vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. Agenda 2063 has the following elements to it:

A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;

An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance;

An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law;

A peaceful and secure Africa;

An Africa with strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics;

An Africa where development is people-driven, unleashing the potential of its women and youth; and

Africa as strong, united and influential global player and partner.

Media leaders are encouraged to draw from this new energy to contribute in their special way to the emancipation of Africans from the chains of poverty, inequality, conflict, crime, corruption, illiteracy, disease, economic plight, and vulnerability to socio-economic risks and environmental hazards. The African ‘Development Agenda 2063’ aligns well with the recently adopted global ‘Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development’. South Africa is currently implementing its own National Development Plan and vision 2030 that seeks to eliminate the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. No one should miss the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to this new struggle for development.

We also invite our Chinese friends to partner with us in championing development in the continent through new business ventures, infrastructure development, media capacity development and many other areas of mutual interest. Together we can take Africa and China forward in positive ways that have never been imagined before.

I currently support President Jacob Zuma in his leadership of the ‘Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative’, a task that he has been given by his counterparts in the African Union to champion. This initiative has many projects, which includes inter alia the North-South Road and Rail Corridor. This is just but one example of an area where media could contribute immensely in terms of ensuring better dissemination of achievements being made as well as possible solutions to challenges that might be experienced. As you all know, the Peoples Republic of China is already a major player in terms of infrastructure development, trade and commerce in various African countries.

We have entered a new era whereby global relations are increasingly being defined by a multi-polar world beyond traditional powers of the north. As South Africa we work closely with China in multilateral bodies in terms of championing a more equitable global order through organisations like the United Nations, Bretton Woods institutions, the G20, BASIC and BRICS, among other platforms. For instance, in July 2015, the BRICS countries formally launched the headquarters of the New Development Bank in Shanghai. The ‘BRICS New Development Bank Africa Regional Centre’ will be established in Johannesburg. The New Development Bank will also prioritise investment that moves the developmental agenda of the South forward. We are delighted that our strategic partners, the leaders from BRICS countries and fellow African countries are committed to the infrastructure development and have expressed support for Agenda 2063 and NEPAD. The BRICS partners’ shares in foreign direct investment inflows and trade volumes have surged rapidly in Africa, with trade expected to reach more than US$500 billion in 2015. We should, therefore, all work together as different stakeholders in society to ensure that these massive investments translate to tangible and sustainable development.

Media is an invaluable source of independent voice and information for the ordinary people. Most importantly, our citizens should have access to information that would empower them to assess options and opportunities that would make them determine their own freedom, development and prosperity.

Again, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to be part of this historic moment whereby Africa and China are chatting new ways of co-operation towards strengthening and deepening media-to-media relationships. In this new global knowledge economy, we cannot allow a situation whereby we become victims of globalisation when we have had all the opportunity to design instruments and mechanisms of framing the agenda collectively and collaboratively. I view the partnership between media leaders of Africa and China as an initiative that defies all the naysayers and pessimists, by entering into an optimistic Sino-African Strategic Partnership that seeks to bring about new ways of doing business in this terrain.

I wish you all the best in your deliberations and exchange of ideas that seek to improve the human condition through various type of media.

I thank you all.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS

News Reporter