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South Africa's philosophy of interconnectedness

Jacob Zuma, president, South Africa

From "The G20 Mexico Summit 2012: The Quest for Growth and Stability,"
edited by John Kirton and Madeline Koch, published by Newsdesk Media Group and the G20 Research Group, 2012
To download a low-resolution pdf, click here.

South Africa's participation in the Los Cabos Summit to promote the interests of Africa as a whole, in areas including infrastructure, international trade and global economic stability

South Africa seeks to use every forum where it has a voice, but in particular the G20, to make a contribution to the effort to ensure fair and effective responses to the challenges confronting the world today. The G20 plays a central role in the effort to strengthen multilateral cooperation.

We believe that the dynamic changes now under way within the global economy provide significant risks and opportunities for economies such as South Africa and within Africa. One of the key elements of African growth is improving the capacity to trade within Africa and internationally. A key pillar for strengthening African trade is building better infrastructure – better ports, railroads, roads, communications and electricity supplies.

Our capacity to grow is based on a sense that we will slowly return to relatively high rates of global growth, based on the growth of major emerging markets in particular. This optimism is supported by emerging signs of economic recovery worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, we are proud of our increased growth rates in recent years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that the sub-Saharan Africa economy will grow at a rate of 5.4 per cent in 2012, considerably exceeding average world growth. According to the IMF, between 2000 and 2010 six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa. This trend is likely to continue. It is forecast that for the five years to 2015 this will increase to seven out of the 10 fastest-growing economies. Africa is poised to be a major growth point in the global economy.

Forging consensus

The G20 has a very specific role to play in adding value to the international community. The G20 presents opportunities for advancing both global governance reforms and the international development agenda in a manner that is complementary. Through a series of summits, the G20 has helped to jumpstart actions by forging consensus among members, building the political will and

inform its decision-making. The state of the global According to the IMF, between 2000 and 2010 six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa. By 2015, this is forecast to increase to seven out of 10 economy and prospects for growth remain fundamental to the work of the G20. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe continues to create uncertainty about prospects for the global economy. Eurozone governments and institutions must act swiftly to resolve the crisis and put in mobilising the necessary resources for an effective response to global challenges. For all its prominence as the premier forum for global economic coordination for its members, however, the G20 is not an alternative to the United Nations or other fully representative multilateral institutions.

The G20 could contribute to multilateralism by acting as a consensus builder on certain issues. At their Los Cabos Summit, G20 leaders could assist in making progress in negotiations that are taking place in other forums by signalling their strong political support for positive outcomes, without usurping the role or mandate of the organisation where such negotiations are taking place. Areas where the G20 could help to add value in this regard include sustainable development, trade, climate financing and reform of the international financial architecture.

Central to South Africa's national agenda is creating a better South Africa and contributing to a better and safer Africa and a better world. South Africa seeks to use its participation in the G20 to promote and strengthen the interests of Africa and of the developing countries of the South. This is done without receiving any formal mandate from African countries, but in the knowledge that the voice of Africa needs to be heard on decisions taken by the G20 that have implications for the whole international community. For South Africa, it is equally important that the G20 expand its outreach programme, to ensure that the interests of all non-member countries are better understood and inform its decision-making.

The state of the global economy and prospects for growth remain fundamental to the work of the G20. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe continues to create uncertainty about prospects for the global economy. Eurozone governments and institutions must act swiftly to resolve the crisis and put in place adequate mechanisms to promote economic growth.

As we head towards the G20 Los Cabos Summit in June 2012, it is important that the G20 show that it can implement the agreements that it has reached to date. Agreement must also be reached on important issues. Key priorities for South Africa in the current cycle include:

We attach a great deal of value to the importance of cooperation. This is expressed in the philosophical concept of Ubuntu, which emphasises that one cannot exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. Ubuntu is roughly translated as ‘humanity', or ‘humanness – I am because we are'.

South Africa brings the spirit of ubuntu to our participation in the G20. Our struggle for a better life for all in South Africa is closely intertwined with our struggle for a better Africa and a better world. In this, our G20 partners have an important contribution to make. South Africa is committed to working together with the Mexican presidency and other G20 members to ensure a successful outcome at the Los Cabos Summit.

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