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Pre-recorded message by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Africa Accelerating 2022 Conference

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High Commissioner of Canada in South Africa, His Excellency Chris Cooter, 
Consul-General of South Africa in Toronto, Ms Thandiwe Fadane,
Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Mr Wamkele Mene,
President of the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, Mr Garreth Bloor,
Business representatives from Canada and South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is my privilege to address this conference on deepening trade and investment between Africa and Canada. 

When Prime Minister Trudeau and I met at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Quebec in 2018 and again in Biarritz in France in 2019 we agreed that driving economic growth that works for all was a shared priority.

Just a year later, the world would be struck by a global pandemic that would devastate human lives and livelihoods and batter the global economy.

The global fight against COVID-19 demonstrated both the need for and the value of solidarity, collaboration and cooperation.

The countries of Africa were united around a common continental response that resulted in unprecedented initiatives to ensure access to lifesaving medical supplies, equipment and vaccines.

Working with partners across the globe, including Canada, the African continent worked in unison to save lives and safeguard livelihoods.

With the pandemic in abeyance, our focus now is on advancing shared prosperity through bilateral trade and investment. 

Yet, the lessons from the pandemic remain.

Africa is committed to work together to advance its own development and meet the needs of its people.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is a critical part of efforts to raise Africa’s growth, and is one of the 15 flagship projects of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. 

There has been important progress towards the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. 

The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System was launched in January and has been successfully piloted in the West African Monetary Zone. 

Work is underway to dismantle intra-African trade tariff barriers as well as non-tariff barriers that hinder market access.

The World Bank and AfCFTA Secretariat estimate that if fully implemented, the Continental Free Trade Area could increase Africa’s exports to the rest of the world by 32 per cent and more than double intra-African exports.

Canada is a longstanding development partner with Africa, joining the African Development Fund in 1973 and the African Development Bank in 1982. 

Canada has supported all capital increases and contributed regularly to the African Development Bank replenishments.

This history, together with the strong trade and investment ties between Africa and Canada, provides a firm platform to expand cooperation and accelerate growth.

As Africa pursues economic integration, the opportunities for Canadian investors and companies will steadily expand.

Canadian miners have long been active in Africa.

They are therefore in an advantageous position as African countries develop their mining and minerals processing industries, focusing on globally-competitive downstream manufacturing and providing the minerals needed for the growth of the global economy of the future.

As this conference demonstrates, there are many opportunities for Canadian companies in Africa beyond the extractives sector.

On a continent where around 60 per cent of arable land remains uncultivated, there is huge potential for climate smart agriculture and agro-processing.

As continental supply chains become increasingly integrated, Africa’s manufacturing capacity will expand rapidly, presenting opportunities in areas like petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, textiles, fabricated metals and many others.

This will drive infrastructure investment, not only in the roads, rail lines and ports that will handle the movement of goods and people, but in the energy and telecommunications networks needed to facilitate production and exchange.

South Africa stands ready to support Canadian companies wishing to trade, invest and do business on the African continent.

South Africa is Africa’s most industrialised economy, has a well-regulated banking and financial system, developed infrastructure, sound legal and regulatory frameworks, and stong linkages into both the global and continental economies.

As our partners in Canada have correctly observed, Africa is on the move.

This is the time to work together, as we did when we confronted the deadly COVID pandemic, to realise the many opportunities that exist for mutual growth and development. 

I wish you well for your deliberations and look forward to the many new partnerships and ventures that we can expect to emerge from this conference. 

I thank you.