President departs SA to build trade relations across the continent

Departing South Africa for the Federal Republic of Nigeria in high spirits earlier on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was excited to embark on a week-long, four-nation visit to West Africa.

Flanked by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel and the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, the President will visit Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal over the coming days.

The visit, which concludes on 7 December, serves to reinforce South Africa’s bilateral relations with the countries concerned and will strengthen partnerships directed at African development and cooperation on multilateral forums.

Speaking to SAnews and other media houses, the President said that this is a very exciting journey that South Africa is embarking on as part of the country’s economic diplomacy efforts.

“We are all very enthused and excited to be embarking on this journey…We are going on this epic journey to the heart of our continent.

“We are visiting four important countries, these are countries that we are hoping to cut deals [with] and renew good diplomatic work at a political level and also do commercial and economic work to advance our own interest but also to prosper the integration of our continent on an economic level,” the President said.

On what can be expected out of the visit to the four countries, the President said that deals, agreements, memoranda of understating that cut across a number of areas will be finalised and channels of trade and investment will be opened.

“At the business forum we are going to hold, a number of our own companies are in place, state-owned companies as well. Some are in infrastructure, some are in agriculture and some are in trade, these are the deals that we want to finalise with those countries,” President Ramaphosa said.

While South Africa has a number of companies in Nigeria and Ghana, the President said that he wants to see more and more of that happening in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire.

“This is much of a mixed type of a journey for us, political and diplomatic and economic and trade. This is going to be beneficial to our country,” he said.

The President emphasised that they are putting into effect the Africa-Continental Free Trade area, and will be demonstrating that this should be a “live document and an agreement that we should eject life into and remove all those colonial barriers that were set up, where the North couldn’t trade with the South and where even travel can be opened up. Trading routes that existed in the past that were closed by colonialism should be reignited.”

“I see this as a way of opening up trade and investment into the continent, we want even those countries to come and invest in South Africa so that it’s no longer a one-way type of process where South African companies invest in their countries,” he said.

The President noted that the ministers who are part of the delegation will give a clear indication that “we want to open South Africa and Africa for trade and investment.”

Source: South African Government News Agency