Economic growth on the African continent will thrive only if there is an environment of peace, stability and good governance, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

“It remains our firm view that the economy of this continent will only thrive in a sustained environment of peace, stability and governance. This will open up many opportunities for the continent to do business with the international community and recoup the fortunes lost to the global economic recession,” said Zuma.

Zuma said this as he received letters of credence by new Heads of Missions accredited to South Africa. The ceremony took place at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria.

In welcoming the ambassadors and high commissioners from 12 countries, Zuma encouraged them to identify niches for mutual cooperation in South Africa’s Nine-Point Plan, which is a vehicle for radical economic transformation.

The President told the ambassadors that South Africa is proud of what it has achieved since the dawn of democracy, with the Constitution consolidating good governance, accountability and the rule of law.

“Our country has been an unrelenting champion of human rights, not only in the country but in the international community as well,” said Zuma.

In August, South Africa held its fourth free and fair local government elections.

“We are encouraged by the similar trend in national elections that we see in other countries, particularly among African counterparts,” the President said.

He said this trend is encouraging, as it will go a long way in ensuring that the continent dispels negative myths and publicity, and becomes one of the sought-after investment destinations.

Zuma said South Africa’s vision for a better Africa in a better world remains alive and forceful. “For this reason, we remain a key but humble player in the continent, advancing the African Agenda 2063 and in the broader international community.”

Zuma, however, expressed concern at the untapped potential of relations with developing countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, East Asia and Africa.

The countries that presented their letters of credence include Brazil, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Colombia, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Zuma said South Africa is pleased to welcome the ambassadors and high commissioners.

“We believe your presence in our country will provide the best opportunity to harness this potential. We are honoured to have you on our shores. We trust that you will have a fruitful stay and commend this country to your governments and people for business, tourism and cultural links,” said the President.

The ambassadors and high commissioners hope to further strengthen relations between South Africa and their respective countries.

Finnish Ambassador Kari Alanko said South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology and Finland are about to sign a memorandum of understanding on research.