Pretoria – The G20 Leaders’ Summit, which concluded in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday, has recorded positive outcomes for global development, with significant benefits for the African continent.
The office of South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday said critical developmental issues were tabled at the summit, which brought together leaders from the world’s major economies, including the European Union.
Speaking at the conclusion of the two-day summit, President Zuma said the German Presidency of the G20 has managed to build on the achievements of the last summit in China, which had emphasised sustainable development in Africa.
“Despite disagreements on certain issues, the summit managed to discuss and agree on various developmental matters that would be of advantage to South Africa and the African continent, including the launch of the G20 Africa Partnership.
“This programme was launched in recognition of the opportunities and challenges on the African continent, as well as the goals of the United Nations Social Development Agenda 2030.
“It was agreed that this initiative would be based on equal partnerships and will be in line with the African Union Agenda 2063. The partnership will further serve our national interest, as it will generate sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development, contribute to creating decent employment and economic advancement for women and youth as well as alleviate poverty and inequality,” President Zuma said.
Boost for rural development and women
The partnership will include developmental projects such as G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment in developing countries, with a focus on Africa. This initiative is intended to contribute to creating 1.1 million new jobs by 2022 and provide innovative skills development for at least five million young people over the next five years.
The G20 Africa Partnership programme will also include projects such as the Women Entrepreneurs Financing Initiative housed at the World Bank, and the establishment of the Business Women’s Leaders Task Force to work with the G20’s Women20 and Business20 initiatives.
The partnership will also see the launch of the #eSkills4Girls Initiative to promote opportunities and equal participation for women and girls in the digital economy, particularly in low income and developing countries.
President Zuma said such developmental programmes are necessary to address the growing discontent by citizens, which is a worrisome issue confronting the world.
“We are confronted by rising inequality within countries and a lack of quality jobs. It cannot be business as usual, where we simply take an approach to better explain the benefits of trade. It is imperative that the discourse and action acknowledges the benefits and costs of globalization,” the President said.
President Zuma said the summit also discussed thoroughly the issue of the global economy and trade and investment against the unfavourable backdrop of sluggish growth.
“The summit agreed that despite improvements in trade and investment, the benefits of international trade and investment have not been shared fairly enough.
“The leaders agreed that trade and investment are key pillars of growth and development, therefore it would be appropriate to promote a fair and favourable environment that will ensure transparency, mutually beneficial trade relations as well as inclusive and sustainable global growth.
“We further agreed on the improvement of the functions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as well as the full implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will provide technical assistance to developing countries.
“As South Africa, we will take full advantage of these agreements and opportunities to address the immediate challenges facing the country such as economic growth, creation of decent jobs as well as the eradication of poverty and inequality,” President Zuma said.
Sustainable development and climate change
Climate change, sustainable development and energy also featured highly on the summit’s agenda.
President Zuma said despite the differences on climate and energy matters, including the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the majority of leaders remain committed to the agreement as the best opportunity to address the existential threat posed by climate change.
Leaders, President Zuma said, reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Paris Agreement and agreed on the full implementation of the agreement. They also agreed to the G20 Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth.
“We must make good on past commitments, most importantly, the mobilisation of financial resources, including the Green Climate Fund, technology transfer and capacity building, to deal with both mitigation and adaptation needs, especially in Africa, where we bear the brunt of climate change,” the President said.
He said infrastructure investment in Africa is critical to development, with investment in renewable energy as part of the energy mix.
“We support G20 efforts towards a transition to sustainable and low greenhouse gas emission energy systems in a manner that is technically feasible and economically viable, especially in developing countries. We also wish to reiterate our support for cleaner fossil fuel technologies and nuclear energy,” the President said.
A G20 Leaders’ Retreat meeting was held during the summit to discussed terrorism and extremism.
President Zuma said South Africa noted with concern the alarming regularity and persistence of terror attacks across the world, causing death and devastation and impacting national and regional security.
“International coordination and cooperation in countering this threat is critical. As South Africa, we maintained our full support of the global campaign against terrorism within the framework of the United Nations,” the President said.
President Zuma was accompanied by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Finance Malusi Gigaba and Energy Nkhensani Kubayi.