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President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised the significance of expanding trade and investment between South Africa and Ghana, highlighting the need to explore avenues for enhancing cooperation beyond the existing areas covered by the Bi-National Commission (BNC).

He was delivering opening remarks at the second session of the South Africa-Ghana BNC held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s OR Tambo Building in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“In addition to the many areas of cooperation that the BNC covers, it is important that we explore how best both countries can increase trade and investment among ourselves.

“The purpose of the Business Forum that will take place on the margins of this BNC is to expand trade and investment between our two countries.

“Ghana is host to several South African companies. Our companies are keen to expand their investments in Ghana and look to us to work together to improve the business environment. We invite investors from Ghana to look at opportunities in our country,” the President said.

The President further emphasised that collaboration between the two countries’ private sectors and State-owned entities is particularly important.

He told his Ghanaian counterpart, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, that bidding for procurement contracts in each other’s countries, instead of sourcing from outside the continent, would be desirable and commercially viable.

The President highlighted that South African companies, including several in the banking sector, have expressed interest in exploring opportunities in line with Ghana’s investment plans.

“There is also scope for collaboration in infrastructure between our two economies, particularly in the building of dry ports, railway networks, airports and hospital facilities. There are also opportunities to be explored in the pre-chemicals sector.

“As we are both coastal countries, maritime shipping and the related economy holds potential for us and opportunities should be explored further in this regard. We need to work together to reverse the decline in trade between our countries over the past four years,” he said.

President Ramaphosa highlighted that the introduction of preferential trading within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a significant development, poised to substantially reshape trade dynamics across the continent.

“On the 31st of January 2024, South Africa sent its first shipment to Ghana and other countries under the AfCFTA Agreement. This is an important first step.

“For many African countries, the start of preferential trade will create great opportunities for growth and development,” he said.

Agreements between SA and Ghana

The BNC between South Africa and Ghana was inaugurated when President Nana Akufo-Addo hosted President Ramaphosa in Accra in 2020.

There are 24 agreements and memoranda of understanding between South Africa and Ghana covering various areas of economic, technical, scientific, social and cultural cooperation.

President Ramaphosa emphasised that they must accelerate the implementation of these agreements and finalise discussions on additional agreements.

He pointed out that one of the recent highlights in bilateral relations was the signing of the reciprocal visa exemption for ordinary passport holders for a period of 90 days per annum, which entered into force on the 1st of November 2023.

“This has resulted in a considerable increase of travellers between our two countries, contributing not only to tourism but towards enhancing business-to-business links, educational and scientific exchanges, and people-to-people ties,” he said.

Peace and security

As the two Heads of State meet at a time when the state of peace and security is fragile across the globe, President Ramaphosa emphasised that they redouble their efforts to ‘Silence the Guns in Africa’.

He said they need to capacitate the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities to do more in pursuit of peace and stability.

“Internal strife, conflicts and wars, compounded by terrorism and violent extremism, are a major obstacle to peace, security and stability. They threaten to constrain our developmental efforts and our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The situations in Sudan, Somalia, Libya and the Sahel, among others, are of grave concern, as are the armed hostilities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the extremist insurrection in northern Mozambique,” he said.

Elections in Africa

President Ramaphosa further highlighted that this will be an important year for democracy in Africa, with 19 African countries – including South Africa and Ghana – holding presidential or national elections in 2024.

He emphasised that these elections are important for the quality of governance and the strength of democracy on the continent.

“We must, however, be concerned that in several parts of the continent, unconstitutional changes of government, particularly through military coups, are on the rise.

“Global developments, such as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, continue to threaten food and energy security in Africa,” he said.

The President said African nations, with their own bitter experiences of colonial occupation, are extremely concerned by the terrible events in Palestine and the suffering unleashed on the people of Gaza.

“On our own continent, the matter of Western Sahara remains unresolved. As we pursue our own developmental goals, we stand in solidarity with all who continue to suffer the effects of occupation and dispossession,” he said. –

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