July 18, 2023
Below are excerpts from remarks by South African Minister, Dr. Naledi Pandor, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on July 4, 2023.*
Minister Pandor’s words speak eloquently for themselves. However, permit me to put a fine point of her focus on the importance of African nations fostering manufacturing and industrialization.
As a physical economist, I understand better than most people, the substance of her reasoning. The only true measure of a successful economic policy is: does the material standard of living improve from one production cycle to the next? And does the implementation of this policy produce an expansion of real physical wealth from the present generation to that of their children? Throughout modern history, it has been proven repeatedly that real sovereignty requires a robust manufacturing sector, physical infrastructure, and increased industrialization of one’s economy.
It is a touch of poetic justice, that Minister Pandor delivered her remarks on July 4, the day the United States declared Independence from the imperialist grip of Great Britain. British suppression of manufacturing by the colonies was overturned and reversed by the adoption of the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton. Contrary to the myth that slavery was the underlying cause for the growth of the U.S as an economic power, it was the genius of Treasury Secretary Hamilton’s four economic reports that outlined the course of economic development for the newly formed nation.** If not for the decisive support of Hamilton’s policies by President George Washington, against the objection of those, who advocated, slavery, states’ rights, and agriculture as the only source of wealth, the American republican experiment would have failed.
Hamilton’s argument in his Report on the Subject of Manufactures, written in 1791, remains relevant today. A nation that cannot manufacture the essential commodities for the continuous progress of its people is endangering its national security.
The essence of successful foreign, domestic, and economic policy by a wise government is founded on the same elementary principle: creating the economic conditions for the advancement of the physical wellbeing of its population.
*Ministerial meeting of the Bi-National Commission of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
**Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics, by Nancy Spannaus, 2019.
Excerpts from, Minister Naledi Pandor
We spend too much time trusting others outside our continent and not enough time trusting ourselves. We need to change that history. I’m hopeful that our business leaders will leverage opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
I believe that the AfCFTA will be a catalyst toward the pursuit of beneficial economic integration in the continent. Through the Free Trade Area agreement, we have promised ourselves as Africans that we will increase intra African trade. That doesn’t mean we buy goods from country B and pretend they were made in the DRC. It means we must manufacture in the DRC and sell within Africa. It means we must manufacture in South Africa and sell within Africa. It means we must manufacture in Ghana, in Togo, wherever we find ourselves as Africans we become productive, and we change our conditions.
Another matter that we must address if the African Continental Free Trade Area is to be a success, is the value addition to our natural resources within the confines of our continent. Everybody is running after the rare mineral resources of the DRC but they’re not establishing factories in the DRC. Don’t sign any agreement if production is not to happen here. We must refuse. We must ensure that value addition beneficiation happens within Africa. And we must ensure that as Africans we derive full benefit from the value chain and that our people realize these much needed opportunities. The time has come for South Africa and the DRC to work at changing our condition. To work at changing our history. But to do these things it’s not easy, there’ll be much opposition. So, the challenge is can we work together honestly and faithfully. If we can do that, we will change our conditions. But if we allow others to divide us, to direct us as to what should suit us, we will never achieve these ambitions.
So honorable minister I close by saying the future is in our hands. It is only by working together that will bring the change that we all want to see. I look forward to our fruitful deliberations… Our people have placed on us the responsibility of ensuring that they enjoy peace and prosperity. Our relations have always been inspired by our commitment to Pan African ideals and solidarity…Our Pan African ideals impose a commitment on us to ensure the development of our countries, but the development of the entire continent of Africa. Our Pan African ideals and our solidarity ask us to pose difficult questions to ourselves as to what good we are making out of the wealth of the nations of Africa. How do we industrialize? How should we manufacture?…
Our main goal and vision is to see real changes in our people’s livelihoods. After all they don’t elect us because we are pretty or because we wear nice outfits. They elect us to change their lives. Our people want their children to be educated. They want their children to become responsible future leaders of our nations. Our people want girls and women to be empowered so that they can fully participate in our economies and in our political lives. Our people want us to create sustainable jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for them so that our people become independent, self-sustained, enabled, and empowered to take charge of their own future and identity. Allowing our people to remain poor is to keep them in a prison of lack of advancement. So, we must change the condition of our people so that they are free to realize their full abilities. (Emphasis added)
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Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton