Despite the challenging times that South Africa finds itself in, work continues to ensure that the country reaches its developmental goals while working with the rest of the African continent.
The country’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi Pandor recently formed part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visits to four West African countries as part of government’s renewed attention to promoting trade and investment with countries on the continent.
Pandor together with Ramaphosa has been engaged in bilateral talks and the signing of memoranda of agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republics of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal.
Speaking to SAnews while on a visit to Gorée Island, off the coast of Senegal, Pandor explained that although South Africa has for years had relations with all the four countries, President Ramaphosa felt it necessary to strengthen the very strong strategic partnerships with each of the individual countries.
“He felt that we have not devoted sufficient attention to countries in the West African region. So he planned the set of visits as part of re-energising the partnerships that were already there, so this is to strengthen, consolidate and identify opportunities for economic development,” she said.
The countries operate within the context of the African Union Agenda 2063. She added that each of the four countries, including South Africa, have developed their own National Development Plans in response to Agenda 2063, the strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the African continent.
It builds on and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development. The purpose of this, she said, is to look at how countries can work together to make those national plans work effectively, and to look at how they can strengthen each other’s business sectors. This is to grow stronger business sectors and also involve the private sector in development aspirations.
Reflecting on the visits at a time when travel bans have been imposed on South Africa as a result of the discovery of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Pandor said the delegation, which also comprised the business sector, was warmly received not only by each of the country’s respective governments, but ordinary citizens as well.
“I think one could feel a very good response to South Africa. It was the right thing for us to undertake these visits. I’ve been really excited about the degree to which the South African private sector is out there and has been bold enough to look for opportunities on the African continent,” she said.