|Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan. AFP PHOTO|
Co-operation among Africa’s 54 states would be crucial in boosting the region’s overall annual growth rate to the 7% level seen in many other emerging markets, he said in an interview on Tuesday.
Mr Gordhan said investment had to be spread over social as well as economic infrastructure to avoid replicating the inequality in many other parts of the world.
"For the next 10-20 years Africa is on a potentially unbeatable growth and development curve which will increasingly attract investment from within Africa, from big emerging markets and from advanced economies with surplus savings.
"We are saying that there is potential for Africa to create models of inclusive growth, job creation and development which will ensure that we reduce inequality, we reduce poverty and we get a wider sharing of the benefits of investment and growth."
He was speaking ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, which begins in Cape Town on Wednesday, with the theme "Delivering on Africa’s Promise".
The International Monetary Fund predicts growth in sub-Saharan Africa will next year rise to 6.1%, making Africa the fastest-growing region in the world apart from Asia. The expansion has made significant inroads into poverty, says the World Bank.
It said in a recent report a decade of strong growth had reduced the number of Africans living on less than $1.25 a day to 48.5% in 2010 from 58% in 1996.
It also predicted foreign direct investment flows into sub-Saharan Africa would reach $54-billion by 2015, up from $37.7bn last year.
Annual infrastructure spending of about $90-billion was required for the next 20 years for the continent to do the kind of "catching up" that it needed to realise its potential, Mr Gordhan said.
This would provide the trigger for further investment into industries and services, and help reduce Africa’s reliance on mineral and agricultural exports, he said.
He acknowledged that lower commodity prices and traditional economic ties to Europe, mired in recession, could threaten the continent’s economic upswing.
"There is widespread recognition that we must adapt to the new normal and more urgently pursue diversification of our economies ... what we’re seeing at the moment augurs well for the future."
Regional hubs are developing in Nigeria and Kenya but South Africa will keep its "massive advantage", given its advanced financial infrastructure, he said. In recent years the Reserve Bank has approved more than 1000 investments from South Africa in 36 African countries.