August 25, 2010 / 7:48 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-S.Africa aiming for 7 pct annual GDP growth -Zuma

* Current investments will increase growth potential

* Zuma says S.Africa will grow for many years to come

(Adds Zuma quotes, background)

BEIJING, Aug 25 (Reuters) - South Africa’s economy should soon be able to generate 7 percent annual growth for years through economic plans currently being developed, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday during a state visit to China.

Zuma said current government investment in education, electricity and public transport would increase the country’s growth prospects.

“The plans we are now developing are in order for us to achieve a target growth rate of at least 7 percent per annum in the near future,” Zuma said in a lecture at a Beijing university.

South Africa suffered its first recession since 1992 following the global financial crisis. Although the economy is recovering, data on Tuesday showed South Africa’s annualised, adjusted GDP growth slowed to 3.2 percent in the second quarter from 4.6 percent in the previous quarter as the mining sector, affected by stoppages, contracted sharply. [ID:nLDE67N0VV]

Zuma, however, was confident the economy would return to a period of strong growth in the near future.

“During much of the last decade we have been able to grow income per person in South Africa by 4 percent or more. Our investment rate has also improved. We expect that with our natural and human resources, we will grow stronger for many years to come,” Zuma said.

Zuma has been urging China to invest more in infrastructure and manufacturing in South Africa during his visit. [ID:nTOE67N05I]

His comments have underscored the attractiveness of China for African countries, while hinting at the frustrations of African governments and companies that want to see more Chinese investment and orders spreading beyond mines and resources.

For Beijing, Zuma’s visit is an opportunity to consolidate ties with African countries, where China is increasingly turning for resources, markets and diplomatic support.

Late last year, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered Africa $10 billion in concessional loans over three years.

Zuma is accompanied by a delegation of more than 370 business representatives — the biggest ever for a South African leader’s visit abroad, officials said. (Writing by Marius Bosch; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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