With the myriad of global challenges at this moment in history, President Cyril Ramaphosa says there is both a need and an opportunity for the United Kingdom and South Africa to think and act differently by exploring new opportunities.
Addressing a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, at the Guildhall on Wednesday, the President said South Africa seeks a new partnership on investment, climate change and green industry, science, innovation and technology as well as trade in goods and services.
“In 2020, the stock of foreign direct investment from the United Kingdom into South Africa was larger than any other country. Four years ago, we embarked on an ambitious investment drive to attract some £60 billion in new investment in the South African economy over a five year period. We have already reached £55 billion in investment commitments, of which £6.5 billion has come from UK investors,” said President Ramaphosa.
South Africa will once again host the 5th South Africa Investment Conference in April next year.
“We look forward to welcoming many British companies to this important event to explore investment opportunities, joint ventures and industrial partnerships,” the President said.
He said South Africa is a gateway to a dynamic continent that is expanding its production, rapidly urbanising and has a young population.
“South Africa is a leading mining economy, with proven capabilities in advanced manufacturing, science and technology. South Africa has sophisticated financial systems and Africa’s deepest capital market, where the rule of law is strong and there is firm protection of contracts and property rights. South Africa hosts many leading multinational corporations,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa noted that while climate change imposes costs on businesses, it also provides new opportunities.
“For South Africa, this opportunity lies in the effort to build a greener base to manufacturing and energy generation. There is potential for significant partnerships on electric vehicle production, on green hydrogen and on green steel production. Already we have built a large renewable energy generation sector and are rapidly growing it as a response to our energy challenges,” the President said.
He said South Africa sees a new partnership that will enable funding, know-how and technical support mobilised on a vast scale to help the country achieve a just transition from a carbon-intensive economy to industrialisation driven by renewable energy.
“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare Africa’s vulnerability with respect to the supply of medicines, medical equipment and vaccines. We used all the ingenuity of South African manufacturers to create production capacity for medical-grade face masks, hand sanitisers, COVID-19 test kits and ventilators. Our excellent genome sequencing capacity was used to detect new variants of COVID-19. Given the strong research and innovation record of British companies, the new partnership can improve collaboration and unlock joint funding and investment in developing Africa’s medical supply hub,” President Ramaphosa said.
In 2021, bilateral trade between South Africa and Britain was valued at £17 000 a minute.
“That means that in the time it took the English football team to score their first three goals on Monday, our trade grew by about £200 000. While a large part of South Africa’s exports is still in minerals, there has been a significant increase in manufacturing exports, using South African industrial capabilities to meet the needs of British businesses and consumers. In the new partnership, we are keen to increase the volume and diversify the composition of trade so that we sell more manufacturing products to UK markets,” he said.
The President emphasised that trade in services is also important.
“South Africa is a large supplier of global business services, with call centres in our big cities providing round-the-clock services to the customers of businesses in the UK. We are looking to significantly expand tourism between our countries. South Africa receives more visitors from Britain than from any other country outside of Southern Africa. Visitors are attracted by the beauty of our landscape and wildlife, our long and rugged coastline, our music and culture, and the energy of our urban areas,” President Ramaphosa said.
He said the relationship between the United Kingdom and South Africa has changed over the course of history.
“This visit proves the strength and endurance of the ties between us. As this State Visit draws to a close, we are certain of a new era of partnership between the United Kingdom and South Africa,” the President said.