, JOHANNESBURG, Jun 24 – US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to South Africa will be a boost for the economy battling low growth and a weakening currency, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.
Obama is due in South Africa at the weekend for his first visit as president to the continent’s wealthiest country.
More than 600 American companies operate in the country and 90 percent of South African exports have access into the United States.
“This is a significant visit as the United States is a major player in investment, tourism and technology,” Zuma told journalists.
South Africa is on a perilous spiral of high inflation and low growth.
Obama’s visit “will further strengthen” relations between the two countries, and will also be used to discuss a range of issues including “peace and security on the continent,” Zuma said.
Obama is due to land in South Africa on Friday.
The illness of former president Nelson Mandela – who is critical and in his third week lying in a hospital bed with a lung infection – would not hamper Obama’s visit, Zuma said.
But his worsening condition makes it more uncertain whether the world’s most famous black presidents will meet. The White House has said it will defer to Mandela’s family regarding any meeting.
Obama’s tour of Africa kicks off in Senegal on Wednesday then proceeds to South Africa before winding off in Tanzania.
He will be promoting trade, investment and the benefits for development of democracy.