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Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Guildhall [23/11/22]

The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Nicholas Lyons,
Your Royal Highnesses,
High Commissioner and Ambassadors,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to address you this evening at the conclusion of our State Visit to the United Kingdom. 

This visit takes place at a key moment for our countries and for the international community.
The global economy is still recovering from the blows inflicted by the most severe pandemic in more than a century. 

Many lives have been lost, many livelihoods have been destroyed and many families have endured great hardship. 

The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in our economies and in the global trading and investment systems. 

The impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on food and fuel prices has led to further economic turmoil and hardship, particularly for the poor and vulnerable. 

The effects of climate change are being felt across the world, signalling in terms that are clear and compelling that existing models of production and consumption are not sustainable.

At this moment in human history, with its manifold challenges, there is both a need and an opportunity to think and act differently.

This is the context in which the United Kingdom and South Africa should together be exploring new opportunities.

South Africa is a key destination for investment.

Our country is the gateway to a dynamic continent that is expanding its production, that is rapidly urbanising and that has a young population. 

South Africa is a leading mining economy, with proven capabilities in advanced manufacturing, science and technology. 

South Africa has sophisticated financial systems and Africa’s deepest capital market, where the rule of law is strong and there is firm protection of contracts and property rights. 

South Africa hosts many leading multinational corporations.

Our own companies are active in many global markets. 

We look to a new partnership between British capital and technology and South African opportunity and industrial capacity.

Firstly, we seek a new partnership on investment. 

The United Kingdom is the largest provider of capital to South African businesses. 

In 2020, the stock of foreign direct investment from the United Kingdom into South Africa was larger than any other country.

Four years ago, we embarked on an ambitious investment drive to attract some £60 billion in new investment in the South African economy over a five year period. 

We have already reached £55 billion in investment commitments, of which £6.5 billion has come from UK investors. 

We will be hosting the 5th South Africa Investment Conference in April next year. 

We look forward to welcoming many British companies to this important event to explore investment opportunities, joint ventures and industrial partnerships. 

Secondly, we seek a new partnership on climate change and green industry.

While climate change imposes costs on businesses, it also provides new opportunities. 

For South Africa, this opportunity lies in the effort to build a greener base to manufacturing and energy generation. 

There is potential for significant partnerships on electric vehicle production, on green hydrogen and on green steel production. 

Already we have built a large renewable energy generation sector and are rapidly growing it as a response to our energy challenges. 

We see a new partnership that will enable funding, know-how and technical support mobilised on a vast scale to help South Africa achieve a just transition from a carbon-intensive economy to industrialisation driven by renewable energy. 

Thirdly, we seek a new partnership on science, innovation and technology. 

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare Africa’s vulnerability with respect to the supply of medicines, medical equipment and vaccines. 

We used all the ingenuity of South African manufacturers to create production capacity for medical-grade face masks, hand sanitisers, COVID test kits and ventilators. 

Our excellent genome sequencing capacity was used to detect new variants of COVID-19. 

Given the strong research and innovation record of British companies, the new partnership can improve collaboration and unlock joint funding and investment in developing Africa’s medical supply hub. 

Fourthly, we seek a new partnership in trade in goods and services.

In 2021, bilateral trade between South Africa and Britain was valued at £17,000 a minute. 

That means that in the time it took the English football team to score their first three goals on Monday, our trade grew by about £200,000.

While a large part of South Africa’s exports is still in minerals, there has been a significant increase in manufacturing exports, using South African industrial capabilities to meet the needs of British businesses and consumers. 

In the new partnership, we are keen to increase the volume and diversify the composition of trade so that we sell more manufacturing products to UK markets.

Trade in services is also important. 

South Africa is a large supplier of global business services, with call centres in our big cities providing round-the-clock services to the customers of businesses in the UK. 

We are looking to significantly expand tourism between our countries.

South Africa receives more visitors from Britain than from any other country outside of Southern Africa.

Visitors are attracted by the beauty of our landscape and wildlife, our long and rugged coastline, our music and culture, and the energy of our urban areas. 

The relationship between the United Kingdom and South Africa has changed much over the course of our history.

This visit proves the strength and endurance of the ties between us.

As this State Visit draws to a close, we are certain of a new era of partnership between the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Now, I propose a toast to the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation.

I thank you.