“Africa is an awakening giant,” according to the former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul.

The leader who oversaw the transition of his country’s power to Nelson Mandela said Tuesday that the future looks bright for a continent previously blighted by war, famine and a lack of infrastructure.

“I believe Africa is an awakening giant and, yes, it is not performing according to what we expected soon enough, but it will perform,” he said.

 De Klerk believes that African countries are primed to take advantage of the world’s growing size.

“If we look at food shortages for the rest of the world with a growing population, Africa is the solution,” he said.

“It has underdeveloped land, frugal land, which can provide food for the growing billions of the world.”

Companies investing in Africa have bemoaned rampant corruption in countries such as Kenya and Nigeria that have seen strongmen leaders enrich themselves at the cost of their own people.

But de Klerk said Africa is not alone in this regard: “Corruption is a worldwide problem, it is just more sophisticated in the developed world and more unsophisticated in the developing world. But it is everywhere.”

“Africa has a great future. I firmly believe in it. But we need to get our house in order we need to fight corruption more effectively,” he added.

The former leader added that investors in his own South Africa, can rely on the country’s constitution for asset protection rights and dismissed recent headlines about “property seizures” as comments from extremists.

South African leadership

 This year South Africa’s ruling ANC party will elect a new leader and de Klerk viewed it as a great opportunity.

“What is going on is bad leadership at the moment. It’s not good governance; it is a governing party which is itself in disarray,” he said.

“But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The time of President Zuma is running out. He will be replaced as leader of the African National Congress (ANC) in December this year.”

De Klerk said a strong candidate to lead South Africa is emerging but refused to name the person on the grounds it might be a “kiss of death for him.”

De Klerk added that independent courts, a free press and a civil society that is “bulging its muscles,” are all combining to provide increased stability in South Africa.