South African business leaders are keen to trade with and invest in Côte d’Ivoire, one of the African continent’s most robust economies, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Speaking during the Ivorian-South Africa economic forum, President Ramaphosa said the West African country is a very attractive investment and trade destination for South African companies.
He said African countries could fully reap the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area if they work together.
“Côte d’Ivoire is a strategic trading partner for South Africa, and there is tremendous potential to further increase trade in value-added products between our two countries. Having greater and direct access to each other’s markets is a catalyst for investment,” he said at the session held at the Sofitel Hotel in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
The President spoke of the need to build one large single African market.
“In this way our companies can achieve economies of scale, lower production costs and achieve global competitiveness. This will foster economic growth, employment creation and improved standards of living for the people of our two countries.”
He also emphasised the need to build industrial and manufacturing capacity.
“Our further growth, both as South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire, lies in economic diversification. We have to transform from being only exporters of raw materials, which makes us vulnerable to fluctuating global commodity prices.”
For this to happen, the President said countries need to invest in infrastructure development, roads, rail, ports and telecommunications.
“We must create an enabling framework around economic and technical co-operation that facilitates the promotion of bilateral trade, industrial development, technical capacity-building and infrastructure development,” he said.
Meanwhile, South Africa has a number of investment projects in Côte d’Ivoire, including a company that has been hard at work in the green energy sector with the potential to create jobs and clean energy in Côte d’Ivoire. This initiative receives considerable support from the South African government.
President Ramaphosa said the two countries need to better understand each other’s respective business and regulatory environments and business cultures.
Addressing the forum Avhaathu Rathogwa, Chief Revenue Officer at Sizwe Africa IT Group said the nine agreements signed between the two countries are testament of cooperation.
“We believe that we need to appeal to our two states to further support a private sector to diversify and consolidate national and regional channels. Diversification leads to more sustained business opportunities, that is what we need to do,” Rathogwa said.
Rathogwa said that there is a need to foster new partnerships to raise the level of trade and investment.
“Great things in business are never done by one person but by collective effort. We encourage and promote co-creation of Ivorian and South African companies in both countries.
“Through collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experience we can really find collaboration and partnership going forward. We are saying that we urge South Africa companies to contribute to implementation in the 2021/2025 National Development Plan,” she said.
Rathogwa acknowledged that more of these forums are needed.
She has called for the mobilisation the community of entrepreneurs of both countries to ensure the successful organisation of the Intra-Africa Trade Fair that will take place in Abidjan in 2023.