President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the South African business sector to form part of the collective national effort to advance the interests of the country and continent.
He made the call at the first of several interactions with business as South Africa prepares to assume chairship of the African Union in February 2020.
“This is a journey that we should walk together for the benefit of the country and the benefit of the continent,” he said on Tuesday in Pretoria.
Earlier in the day, the President addressed the South African Heads of Mission accredited to countries on the African continent, where he outlined South Africa’s priorities for its term at the helm of the continental body.
These include economic integration across the continent and the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the economic and financial inclusion of women and the fight against gender-based violence, as well as the promotion of good governance.
In the meeting with business, the President welcomed the operationalisation of the AfCFTA in July 2020 as a historic moment and the opening of a new era for the continent.
Once in effect, the AfCFTA would constitute the largest common market in the world, composed of over one billion people and a combined GDP of more than US$3.3 trillion.
It is tipped to develop the type of inclusive development path that is essential to Africa’s long-term prosperity.
The President called on business to work with government on concrete measures to realise Africa’s aspirations, saying that the legacy of the AfCFTA will be enhanced intra-African trade and jobs and prosperity for the people of Africa.
The meeting identified the need to reinvigorate South Africa’s leadership of the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative as infrastructure is central to the resolution of Africa’s social, economic and political challenges.
“To this end, the President has urged business to facilitate greater levels of intra-African investments focusing specifically on trade-enabling infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities,” said the Presidency in a statement following the engagement on Tuesday evening.
While appreciating a number of challenges confronted by some businesses operating in other countries on the continent, business leaders committed themselves to working in partnership with governments for the sustainable development of Africa as a whole, the statement read.
“Guided by government’s guidelines for good business practice for companies operating on the rest of the continent, South African business stands ready to support Africa’s industrialisation and growth.
“The President has welcomed the frank engagement with business as the starting point for a more structured approach to cooperation between government and the private sectors around a common African economic agenda,” said the Presidency. – SAnews.gov.za