African integration integral for the continent - President Ramaphosa

Thursday, November 10, 2022

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the time has come for the African continent to integrate and work more closely together.

The President was speaking at the Kenya-South Africa Business Forum held on Wednesday evening in the East African country where he is on an official state visit.

“For us to surge forward, to address the issue of integration, it is about time that indeed Africa is more integrated. When we look at other continents, especially Europe, their inter trade is up to 70% and ours is a paltry less than 20%.

“When you go into the markets that we have…I often begin looking where these goods are made. And I get appalled when I realise that goods which we could have made ourselves on the continent are imported from other environments in the world,” he said.

The President cited the COVID-19 pandemic and how the African continent worked together as an example of how integration can be achieved.

“As the world was gripped by this massive pandemic, as a continent we were able to distinguish ourselves in the manner in which we approached and addressed COVID-19. We were the only continent that during this horrific pandemic, were able to unite and to act as a continent in an integrated manner.

“Right at the outset of the pandemic…we developed an African strategy of how to address and to approach COVID-19. No other continent that I know of…was able to develop as good a strategy as we did and that spoke to our integration.

“That to me showed us that working together…we are able to achieve enormous feats. If we work together, we are able to achieve much more than what we imagine,” he said.

President Ramaphosa also cited Africa’s collective approach to deliberations at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) held in Egypt recently.

“As Africa and as African leaders, we…collectively called upon the more developed economy countries to honour their commitments. At COP21 in Paris, they made a commitment that they would be…making available $100 billion per year [to address climate change], they have not met those commitments.

“Collectively…one message, several voices, we said we want them to address the loss and the damage that our countries are suffering from. Once again, Africa is showing a great deal of integration of thought, effort and articulation,” he said.

President Ramaphosa reflected that the African continent continues to bear the brunt of climate change.

“We are hardly responsible as a continent, for the damage that has been done and continues to be done to the climate and we therefore want [developed economies] to pay up. It is about time that the money is brought to Africa to enable us to address the damage they have caused to our climate,” he said.

Kenya-South Africa trade

The President reflected that for more trade to occur between South Africa and Kenya, issues that “hold us back” must be addressed.

“What’s holding us back seems to be fear. Fear of the unknown. Where we almost fear our own shadows. Today we were able to announce that there should be visa free travel…[for] Kenyans going to South Africa.

“The other thing that holds us back is bureaucracy and regulatory environment. [South Africa and Kenya] have already identified to unlock the way we deal with each other and unlock unnecessary bureaucracy, red tape and regulatory unnecessary strictures,” he said.

He told the business forum that ministers from both countries are already working on ways to reduce the red tape.

“The opportunities are enormous. Opportunities that straddle between the private sector as well as the public sector. Opening up the Kenyan market for both our private sector and state owned enterprises.

“Similarly…we want to open up also South Africa’s market for [Kenya’s] goods and services and indeed for [Kenyan] public sector companies that can come to do business,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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