Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 60th Consumer Goods Forum Annual Global Summit, Cape Town International Convention Centre
The Leadership of the Consumer Goods Forum
CEOs and Leaders of Business
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour to address the 60th Consumer Goods Forum Annual Global Summit. This is a special occasion and platform, not just for Cape Town and South Africa, but for our continent as a whole, given Africa’s emergence as a consumer market with new and unique opportunities.
Your Summit is meant to discuss and agree on steps and actions that need to be taken to develop, sustain and grow the consumer goods industry in the era of a digital revolution that is compelling all of us to rethink the choices that consumers continue to make.
The Consumer Goods Forum theme of seizing opportunities in the face of disruption speaks a lot to the origins of this city and the history of our country.
It speaks to the spirit of our nation, and the South Africa of the future as envisaged in our National Development Plan.
It is in our DNA as South Africans to initiate, manage and embrace change that collectively advances our society, in line with our national call to action – Together We Move South Africa Forward.
This city, which we call the Mother City, and our country have gone through decades and centuries of disruption, from colonialist expansionism in the 16th and 17th centuries, to slavery in the 19th century, to segregation and apartheid in the 20th and 21st-century.
But there was also resistance and struggle to the resultant disruption because it was ruthless disruption that manifested itself in many horrific practices such as the denial of human rights and freedom to many of the people who lived in this city and this country. This included the imprisonment on Robben Island of the father of our nation Nelson Mandela.
On 11 February 1990, there was another more pleasant disruption when the world joined our nation in celebrating, 27 years later, the release from prison of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
I continue to be moved by the memory of standing alongside Nelson Mandela holding a microphone for him as he made his first public address to the nation and the world for the first time after 27 years on the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall following his release.
His address was itself an act of disruption. After 27 years of isolation and torture by the apartheid state, Nelson Mandela delivered a message of reconciliation and hope for our future. Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and conciliatory speech disrupted the false racial supremacy that the apartheid rulers had sought to construct for South Africa.
Indeed, Nelson Mandela’s message of peace, justice, nation-building and reconciliation kept all South Africans, black and white on course during our difficult transition to build a national democratic society from the ashes of apartheid.
Today we are forging a new nation based on justice, equality and non-racialism. No country can consolidate the task of building a nation without the support of a number of role players particularly, working people, who in many ways build a country brick by brick with the sweat of their brow; community organisations who are often the glue that binds nations together and the corporate sector that develops economies and creates jobs.
I also wish to acknowledge the various local South African companies and international conglomerates who are members of the CGF that are trading in our country, contributing to the growth of our economy, and by creating jobs for our citizens.
Many corporate players have been playing a supportive role to our country over many years and I can count some who are here such as Coca Cola, Nestle, UNILEVER, WalMart, Colgate, Kellogg’s, SC Johnson, J&J, Proctor and Gamble amongst others. We thank you for investing in our country and the positive role you’ve been playing since the end of apartheid to develop our country and its people.
Having served on the Advisory Councils two of these companies I gained a better appreciation of the role that international corporations can play in supporting the national agendas of countries that want to advance not only their national economies but their people as well. We are delighted that many corporations in the consumer industry have embraced the concept of shared value and how it can be created on a sustainable basis and benefit all key stakeholders, be they workers, shareholders, communities and government.
The idea of sharing value amongst all key stakeholders is certainly the most welcome disruption that advances the interests of all.
As we are evolving as a new nation we are embracing innovation, e-astuteness, e-learning, and e-commerce.
The proliferation of ICTs, the accessibility of mobile telephony and data, and the growing popularity of social media is shifting our businesses to be more dynamic and fluid.
Traditional patterns of consumption are continuously being disrupted redefined, and reconfigured.
New technologies and social media which we as South Africans have taken to are affording more freedom, more knowledge, and greater power to customers in villages, townships, towns, and cities.
In South Africa, these technologies are enabling the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs who are developing new services and products for a nation of early adopters and critical consumers.
This global summit is therefore an excellent platform for industry leaders and entrepreneurs to share experiences on the modern consumer and how his or her needs can better be attended to.
It is an opportunity for collaboration and refining of digital strategies to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by a world that is more connected, dynamic and fluctuating.
It is an opportunity for sharing innovative ways to reach consumers in new ways to drive growth, create decent employment, and entire national economies.
Ultimately, it is about remembering that informed, satisfied consumers are the most important stakeholders in any enterprise.
At a time of persistent difficulty in the global economy as well as our own, consumer-focused businesses must be responsive to the financial pressures under which consumers find themselves.
But we also know that times such as these also produce new opportunities that arise from often deep-seated changes in consumer behaviour.
New opportunities are emerging from the new ethical choices exercised by policymakers and better educated consumers to advance fair labour and trade practices and environmental sustainability.
As South Africa, we wish to pay tribute to the excellent leadership that the Consumer Global Forum provides across the globe to its members to ensure that the industry thrives even when it faces headwinds.
The industry will continue to prosper because your Forum ensures that its members put the care, wellbeing, and empowerment of consumers at the centre of their enterprise value chain.
The Consumer Global Forum is remarkable because it brings manufacturers and retailers together to realise that they have a critical role to play in improving the health and wellness of consumers, employees, their families and the communities they serve.
We commend the Forum for driving global collaboration efforts to end forced labour and modern day slavery by promoting human rights and decent working conditions throughout the world.
This is an ethical and values-driven organisation that is pioneering ground-breaking programmes to reduce food wastage.
Through the Global Standard to Measure Food Loss and Waste, it is empowering businesses and governments to eliminate undesirable wastage.
We certainly cannot afford, as I have come to learn, to live in a world where approximately one-third of all food is lost or wasted while more than 800 million people are undernourished.
We applaud you for making the protection against climate change a cornerstone of your work.
The protection of the environment and reduction of global warming must surely become the new normal, not only for members of the Consumer Global Forum, but for all of humanity.
We are heartened and encouraged to learn of your work to promote sustainable sourcing of commodities, fighting deforestation, and reducing the carbon footprint.
Your members and their enterprises inspire hope, build communities, and develop nations.
It is remarkable that members of the Forum employ nearly 10 million people worldwide with an estimated 90 million roles along the value chain.
The consumer goods industry remains a major driver of economic growth in South Africa.
Since 1994, the democratic government has more than tripled the number of black graduates from university and we are creating opportunities for black people in business.
In 1994 there were less than half a million black people in the middle class and today it is in excess of 3.5 million.
Growing prosperity among South Africa’s black majority, particularly the emerging black middle class is a major boost to the consumer goods sector.
The whole continent of Africa is on a positive, new growth trajectory – it is acknowledged as the next growth frontier.
And South Africa is in the fortunate position of having identified the growth opportunities in Africa many years ago already.
Africa is an enormous market of more than one billion people.
Seven of the 10 fastest-growing national economies globally are in Africa. Africa is open for business but more importantly for the consumer sector. A study by McKinsey reveals that Africa’s consumer-facing industries are expected to grow by $400 billion by 2020, representing the continent’s largest business opportunity.
As consumers, Africans are similar to urban consumers anywhere else in the world: they are both brand and quality conscious, they seek out the latest trends but watch their budget, and they want a modern, attractive shopping environment.
But Africa is a complex, nuanced market of 54 countries and more than 2000 languages. Consumers in the north have very different preferences and needs than those of the sub-Saharan countries. Africa is therefore not only rising but it is consuming.
We in South Africa are ideally placed as a gateway for international investors wishing to venture in the continent.
The continent has chosen an industrialistion path driven through regional integration, infrastructure development, mineral beneficiation and developing the agricultural value chain.
South Africa is not only an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for itself, but we are also an important source of FDI on the African continent.
There is growing consensus on the continent that Africa must replace the current system of exporting commodities and raw materials with a continental legislative and policy architecture and infrastructure.
This must be premised on interdependence, interconnectivity and intra-trade across our Continent.
A number of trading agreements are being entered into not only to open the door to South African exporters and businesses; they also provide investment opportunities for companies domiciled in South Africa.
In order to boost economic growth and create employment, our government has committed to an ambitious infrastructure investment programme which will position South Africa as an investment destination of choice.
Over the next two decades, our government will spend more than R4 Trillion rand to alleviate the constraints and bottlenecks in energy, transport, water and communication infrastructure.
As a member of BRICS, South Africa also enjoys greater economic cooperation with the member states of the group.
The business environment in South Africa is stable, vibrant and conducive to increased trade and investment.
Investments, whether local or foreign, are protected by relevant legal prescripts.
Our constitutional democracy is supported by a vibrant Parliament, independent Chapter 9 institutions, and an independent judiciary. Our democratic dispensation has also given rise to world-class consumer protection and adjudication of disputes in this area.
South Africa is indeed open for business.
Together, let us seize the opportunities that are brought by the digital revolution and disruption.
We want to grow and entrench the consumer goods sector here at home and in the region and the rest of the African continent.
Today, we must embrace and deepen the values espoused by the consumer global forum for a better South Africa, a better Africa, and a better world.
Finally, I hope that when you a have a few free moments during your visit to this wonderfully beautiful city, you will open your wallets and be good consumers in the Mother City. We’d like that!
I thank you.