Video message for the Economic Development Conference by the Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe
19 April 2012
Warm greetings to you all from me on behalf of government and my colleagues in the cabinet.
I would have loved to be part of this important conference but I am unable to do so due to other pressing state commitments which required me to be out of the country.
The Economic Development Conference has become a market place of ideas, a space government has created in order to both enable and encourage innovative thinking with the view to meeting our objectives of reconstruction and development, as well as sustainable growth.
Consequently, it is particularly pleasing that this yearís conference will deal with infrastructure - one of the critical challenges facing our country and which is, at the same time, one of the most important opportunities for expanding development, creating decent jobs, growing the economy and, thereby, empowering the nation.
Infrastructure lies at the heart of the South African and indeed, the African continentís public policy interventions.
Last year we established the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, the PICC, as the coordinating and integrating body that will ensure that implementation receives priority.
As a country, we have a demonstrated capacity to deliver.
We showed that during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
We showed that with the Gautrain project that provides an efficient transport service between the OR Tambo International airport, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
But we also have enormous infrastructure challenges.
We now need to focus that proven capacity on a more ambitious programme that embraces transport and logistics, water and sanitation, the generation of energy to meet the nationís needs and the expansion of broadband and other information and communications infrastructure.
At the same time our infrastructure vision has a strong social component, focused on providing improved health care and education across the country. It connects with our human settlement strategy, including the development of new cities.
Over the next two days, you will have an opportunity to share your experience and your knowledge base on matters as diverse as skills development, finance, localisation of supplies and innovation. You will also be considering the position of the rural poor and how infrastructure can transform their lives.
Our nation has been built on dialogue - dialogue originally between the old holders of power and the South African liberation movements; dialogue between business, labour and government on the essential framework for economic cooperation; and now dialogue on infrastructure.
I know that this conference is structured around a series of panels in order to promote an interactive platform for participants. You have a distinguished list of participants, including Professor Joseph Stiglitz. You have a number of members of the PICC at your Conference, including the Chairperson of the Management Committee, Minister Gugile Nkwinti.
Minister Ebrahim Patel, who also chairs the Secretariat that is responsible for the day to day work of the PICC, will be taking careful note of the conclusions of the various panels and I look forward to the report that he will prepare for the PICC.
I wish you well in your discussions over the next two days.
I thank you