Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Ghana-South Africa Business Roundtable on the occasion of the working visit to Ghana
Colleagues and friends,
Let me begin, President Akufo-Addo, by expressing my warmest thanks to you for hosting us today in Accra.
Let me also thank the assembled executives for taking the time to participate in this important engagement.
The impressive gathering speaks to the strength of the historical partnership between Ghana and South Africa, and to the untapped economic potential of our relationship.
Our partnership starts from a strong and growing foundation.
South Africa is already the largest purchaser of Ghanaian exports in Africa, and the third largest importer of Ghana products globally.
Between 2016 and 2018, Ghanaian exports to South Africa grew faster than to any other major trading partner.
We aim to capitalise on this growth to position South Africa as the world’s leading driver of Ghanaian exports.
With Ghana as a key hub in West Africa, and South Africa as a key hub in Southern Africa, the strength of our relationship has the potential to more deeply connect our respective regions, and expand the scope of shared, inclusive regional trade.
Our efforts to move closer together must be underpinned by a shared commitment to investing in each other’s countries.
More than 160 South African companies are already registered in Ghana.
Major investors like Standard Bank, MTN, Shoprite and AngloGold all have the potential to generate significant employment opportunities across Ghana.
The job creation potential of these strategic investments is strongest when South African companies invest in local skills, share knowledge and technology, and commit to partnering with local Ghanaian firms.
As the South African government, we will continue to support this trade and investment partnership by expanding mechanisms for cooperation.
Our vision in the coming decades is to build on this strong base of collaboration, and to transform our relationship into one of greater mutual benefit.
We recognise that as African countries, we cannot succeed without our partners in Africa succeeding.
As Ghana develops, South Africa gains from new and more competitive suppliers on the continent.
We gain from the skills and experience you develop.
And we gain from the ability to jointly develop the types of regional value chains that will make both our nations globally competitive.
We need to move beyond trade in commodities like oil and gold, and on to the purchase of job-creating agricultural goods, advanced manufactured products and value-added services.
This is a transformation that is already underway.
In the past three years, South Africa has become a significant purchaser of goods like cocoa and yams, products that we had never purchased before.
And we have made significant investments in modern, advanced services industries, like telecommunications and finance.
This is a strong start that must kick-off a rapid effort by South African firms to support Ghana’s efforts to industrialise and diversify.
The African Continental Free Trade Area must serve as a means to enable our common industrialisation.
It must be used as a tool that binds our industrial economies together into a unified, globally competitive African market.
The Continental Free Trade Area offers a framework for the development of more equitable patterns of growth.
And make no mistake, the growth potential of the African continent is unmatched by any region of the world.
By 2030, African household consumption is estimated to reach $2.5 trillion.
By 2040, the urban population of Africa will be larger than that of friends in China or India.
And by 2050, Africa’s population will grow to 2.5 billion people.
This underlying human potential mirrors untapped opportunities in the industrial, agricultural and services sectors.
South Africa’s sees that its own role in realising the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement cannot be limited to simply trading on the continent.
Creating the underlying capacity to benefit from the agreement will require a more sustainable outreach to our partners on the continent.
Our vision for that outreach is grounded in the four essential pillars of African development: infrastructure, investment, skills and partnerships.
Developing infrastructure that unites and empowers Africa requires a common commitment to cross-border projects.
The continent needs an estimated $130 billion to $170 billion in infrastructure investment each year to achieve our underlying potential.
The projects that help us meet this challenge must also be used to create opportunities for growth and development here on the continent.
By pooling our shared skills and resources, we can use these projects to catalyse the types of industrial activity that will transform African economies.
In South Africa, we are leveraging our development financial institutions to help unlock these infrastructure projects; while also mobilising a wide range of industry partners in areas like construction, engineering, projects management and finance.
Investment across African borders helps to establish the economic relationships that underpin the development of our trade relations, while also allowing for the better circulation of ideas and skills across the continent.
Sharing skills requires embracing a vision of more open movement of people across borders.
In South Africa, we are committed to introducing a visa regime that welcomes the best and brightest to our country, and eases the process of applying for a visa for tourists and professionals alike.
In 2018, we were very happy to welcome 21,000 Ghanaian visitors to South Africa, up from 17,500 in 2017.
We hope to see that number continue to grow.
We remained steadfastly committed to assuring that our guests from Ghana, West Africa and across the continent find a safe and welcoming home in South Africa.
We have been working hard to assure that the culprits behind isolated incidents of xenophobic violence are brought to justice, and that we build the type of responsive policing that assures similar incidents will never happen again.
The cross-cutting driver of our collaboration in infrastructure, investment and skills must be our renewed commitment to a Pan-African partnership.
South Africa has established Trade Invest Africa, a one-of-a-kind institution dedicated to developing partnerships and economic ties between South Africa and other African countries.
We see this as a base from which to develop new initiatives, and to continue developing modern, mutually reinforcing patterns of growth in Africa.
Achieving the vision of an expanded economic partnership with Ghana, built on our shared commitment to a prosperous future for Africa, requires a constant conversation between our nations.
We must share thoughts and ideas, raise our common challenges, and identify ways to collaborate.
Our journey takes a few steps forward with our conversation today.
If we are to take the lesson of the great Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor – that “in our beginnings lies our journey’s end” – then today’s engagement is most certainly a sign of the promise to come.
I look forward to hearing from you all, to better understanding the needs of business, and to working with you in this historic undertaking.
I thank you.