President Ramaphosa calls for shift to high value exports

Friday, July 28, 2023

By Dikeledi Molobela

St. Petersburg, Russia – President Cyril Ramaphosa has boldly declared Africa’s intention to prioritise the export of valuable finished products instead of raw materials from the continent’s minerals. 

President Ramaphosa told his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, that Africa wants to export finished products, which will set Africa on a path to unlock unparalleled opportunities for the continent’s economies. 

The President was speaking during a plenary session at the second Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg in the Russian Federation. The two-day summit kicked off on 27 July. 

“We no longer want to export ore, soil, dusts and rocks from the minerals of our continent. We want to export finished products that have value. 

“There must be respect also for what we do as countries, and we must stop those countries that count their wealth and their assets in terms of minerals that reside in the African soil like they did in the past when they counted their wealth in the number of slaves that they owned, taken from the African continent. 

“Respect and mutual benefit underpin what we as Africa do when we relate to other countries in the world,” the President said. 

President Ramaphosa expressed Africa’s pursuit of a balanced and mutually beneficial trade and investment. 

He emphasised that the continent’s aspirations for its goods, products and services to compete on an equal footing in the global economy. 

This stance underscores Africa’s determination to establish a reciprocal relationship, advocating for a fair and level playing field in international trade. 

“African countries should, as sovereign States, be able to pursue their own independent foreign policy approaches that are not beholden to any of the major global powers or blocs. 

“This second Russia-Africa Summit is an opportunity to further enhance and strengthen international cooperation and partnership for Africa’s development,” he said. 

President Ramaphosa welcomed the focus on further cooperation between Russia and Africa to promote investment, facilitate the development of value chains and boost capacity to produce and export manufactured products. 

He asserted that the proposed Russia-Africa Action Plan for the coming years should align with the second Ten-Year Implementation Plan of the AU’s Agenda 2063 to ensure better coherence and more action-orientated interventions. 

“We should also ensure joint monitoring and evaluation of the Action Plan. We need to jointly allocate the necessary funding for implementation and be accountable for concrete deliverables,” the President said. 

Focus on cooperation

Touching on the current geopolitical tensions, the President told the session that the ripple effects are causing distress and negatively affecting countries across Africa. 

“As part of Russia-Africa cooperation, we must repeat our call for existing global institutional mechanisms to be both strengthened and reformed. Greater participation of countries in the Global South will promote inclusiveness and engender trust. 

“In this regard, the reform of the multilateral financial institutions and the reform of the United Nations Security Council remains a priority for us. It is totally unfair, inequitable and unacceptable that a continent that represents 1.3 billion people continues to not be represented at the UN Security Council,” the President said. 

President Ramaphosa emphasised that in the interlinked global community, the repercussions of conflict and instability in other parts of the world have far reaching consequences and affect everyone. 

He told the session that all nations have a responsibility to work for peace, support peacebuilding, and lend every effort to bring an end to conflict and war. 

“As South Africa, we are steadfast in our position that negotiation, dialogue and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter are necessary for the peaceful and just resolution of conflict. 

“It is our hope that constructive engagement and negotiation can bring about an end to the ongoing conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. As South Africa, our own history has taught us that this is indeed possible,” he said. 

The President concluded that he looks forward to the second Russia-Africa Summit playing a key role in supporting objectives of African integration, economic growth, peace and common prosperity.

In response to President Ramaphosa's remarks, President Putin said that Russia shares the same views when it comes to the prospects of development of Russia-Africa relations. 

"We are constantly keeping in touch and we will continue to do so, as I have already mentioned, today. We will focus on the situation related to Ukraine," President Putin said. 

On the BRICS summit scheduled to take place in August in South Africa, President Putin wished the summit every success, saying he is confident that the meeting will be held at the highest level. –