Business Desk : Potential investors focusing on Africa are in the “right place at the right time”, with continued robust growth giving rise to the continent as the new growth frontier, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday. Mr Zuma made it clear that the continent was open for business in his address to the Bloomberg conference on the economic outlook and opportunities in Africa. South Africa was at the forefront of growth in “intra-Africa” investments. “This underlies a growing confidence and belief in the future of our own continent,” Mr Zuma said, addressing the conference in Newtown. “To this end, I am pleased to inform the conference that since 2007, there has been a compound growth of 57% in South Africa-originated foreign direct investment (FDI) projects into the rest of Africa. South Africa was the single largest FDI investor in the rest of Africa in 2012, with cumulative FDI jobs created standing at more than 45,000 to date.” Mr Zuma told delegates that South Africa had to lead by example in that it could not expect external partners to “appreciate the value of Africa, if we Africans do not”. The African Union (AU) was therefore working to boost levels of intra-Africa investments. The South African government believed that Africa’s integration and intra-Africa trade could not be realised without investing in Africa’s infrastructure and the manufacturing sectors. “Our other partners on the continent such as Nigeria, Kenya and, increasingly, Angola are also taking up the cause of investing on the African continent. Intra-Africa investments should define the new Africa paradigm,” he said. Access to “trade enabling infrastructure” remained a challenge on the continent – this formed part of the AU summit in Ethiopia that took place at the weekend. “We recommitted ourselves as African heads of state to continue building cross-border infrastructure, to unlock growth and development in our continent,” Mr Zuma said. “In addition to a focus on trade-enabling infrastructure, we are intensifying our continental integration efforts through the negotiation of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement.” “Considerable progress” had also been made in negotiations to integrate 26 countries of eastern and southern Africa, involving a population of almost 600-million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $1-trillion. “This market scale could launch a sizeable part of the continent onto a new developmental trajectory. What is worth noting is that the free trade area will form the basis for an Africa-wide free trade agreement, which could create a single market of $2.6-trillion and a population of over 1-billion people,” he said. Africa could only move forward, with good prospects and a promise of worthwhile returns for investors. South Africa itself was a better place to do business in than in 1994, Mr Zuma said. This was the key message from African National Congress (ANC) leaders ahead of the country’s fifth democratic election in a few months time. The challenge of inequality, unemployment and poverty remained and the “next journey” for South Africa was to intensify its efforts at bringing about “economic freedom”, particularly for the poor. “We have to free the economy from the shackles of the past, open it up and ensure that all benefit from the robustness of the South African economy, through inclusive economic growth,” he said, again punting the National Development Plan (NDP), which is aimed at transforming the economy and creating jobs. “The plan outlines our plans of transforming the economy and of creating jobs through promoting sectors in which we as a country have a competitive advantage. This includes the minerals sector, agro-processing, mining, manufacturing, construction, general infrastructure and the green economy,” he said. Mr Zuma said South Africa was “making progress”.