Opening remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the Official Talks during the State Visit by Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara to South Africa, Union Buildings
Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, President Alassane Ouattara,
Your Excellency, Ambassador Sakaria Koné, Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire to South Africa,
Your Excellency, Ambassador Zolani Mtshotshisa, Ambassador of South Africa to Côte d’Ivoire,
Senior Government Officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you, Mr President, and your delegation.
Let me thank you for honouring our invitation.
Your visit to our shores is evidence of the importance we attach to strengthening our bilateral relations.
I recall with fondness my state visit to Côte d’Ivoire in December last year, which did much to deepen trade and investment relations and build a stronger bond between our peoples.
A new era of cooperation has been established between South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire.
Your visit today is an opportunity to review progress on the implementation of the Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding we signed in December, consider new Agreements to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, and review the implementation of economic projects.
Since my visit to Côte d’Ivoire, much work has been done to implement the agreements.
I have been informed that the departments of our two countries have been engaging each other constantly with a view to deepen our bilateral relations.
I am pleased to note that our Ministers of foreign affairs shared information and exchanged views on matters of mutual interest during their political consultations earlier this month.
It is a signal of our shared commitment and confidence that we will be signing a further six agreements to further strengthen our bilateral relations.
We will be signing Memoranda of Understanding in the areas of Transport, Social Development and Social Inclusion, Forestry and Wildlife, Sports, and Economic Cooperation.
We will also be signing a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between our respective schools of government.
We are encouraged by the fact that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade between South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire is on an upward trajectory.
Over the last three years, the value of South African exports to Côte d’Ivoire has increased by close on 25 per cent.
The value of South African imports from Côte d’Ivoire has increased by more than 200 per cent over the same period.
While this increase is from a small base, it is clear that there is huge potential to increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
We welcome the commencement of the flights of Air Côte d’Ivoire between Johannesburg and Abidjan on the 1st of July.
This route will contribute to increase traffic between our two countries and between South and the West Africa region.
In turn this will contribute to increased trade, investment, and tourism.
With the entry into force of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area, I expect the volume of trade to further increase between our countries.
The portfolio of investments in Cote d’Ivoire by South African companies is increasing rapidly.
This includes significant investment and financing by institutions like the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Rand Merchant Bank and Nedbank.
Among others, South African companies are active in the telecommunications, broadcasting, banking and insurance sectors in Côte d’Ivoire.
We believe that there is great opportunity for South African companies – both state owned and privately owned – to support the priority sectors identified in the Ivorian National Development Plan 2021-2025.
These include sectors like agriculture, mining, oil and gas, electricity, transport and logistics, and industry.
In this regard, a South African state entity, Umgeni Water, has expressed an interest in one of the Ivorian National Development Plan projects to supply drinking water to the city of Abidjan.
As Côte d’Ivoire prepares to host the 34th African Cup of Nations in 2023, South Africa is available to collaborate with Côte d’Ivoire on the required infrastructure projects, drawing on our own experience of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
South African companies could contribute to the ambition of the Ivorian National Development Plan to increase domestic agro-processing to derive greater value from the country’s substantial agricultural resources.
Mr President, we commend the progress Côte d’Ivoire has made under your leadership in nation building and reconciliation.
This makes Côte d’Ivoire a shining beacon for the region and continent on the peaceful resolution of conflict.
We have been closely following the security situation in the West Africa region.
We fully support the decisions of the 61st ECOWAS Summit of Heads of State and Government held on the 3rd of July 2022.
We share ECOWAS’s concerns on the recurrence of terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria and the spread of such activities to Benin and Togo.
We support the decisions of ECOWAS on the situations in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
South Africa appreciates the important role played by Côte d’Ivoire in contributing to peace and stability in West African through contributing troops and police to the Stabilisation Mission in Guinea Bissau.
South Africa is ready to provide support to Côte d’Ivoire within the framework of the Defence Cooperation Agreement signed in December 2021.
Our Ministers of Defence must urgently finalise plans on defence industry cooperation, identification of training needs and other possible areas of cooperation.
It is significant that this State Visit takes place as we mark 20 years since the African Union was formed in July 2002 in Durban.
The 20th Anniversary of the African Union presents an opportunity for a reflection on Africa’s path to prosperity and peace, and on the road ahead.
We remain firm in our commitment to unity, solidarity and cohesion as we work for a better Africa and a better world.
We must intensify our efforts to realise the Africa We Want by 2063.
Within the global governance system, South Africa will continue to defend and promote the primacy of the United Nations in resolving the many challenges facing the international community, including in the areas of peace and security, sustainable development and human rights.
Finally, I wish Côte d’Ivoire well in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
I also wish Côte d’Ivoire all the best with its preparations to host for the 34th African Cup of Nations in 2023.
I thank you.