JOHANNESBURG - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says climate change poses a serious potential threat to Africa’s development and prosperity and has urged countries to develop future-proof economic growth models.
Ramaphosa told a session on climate change chaired by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, Japan that South Africa was working towards implementing the Sendai Framework while ensuring its appropriate integration with the broader climate change and sustainable development agenda.
The framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognises that the state has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
"South Africa has made substantial progress in adopting and implementing disaster risk reduction strategies, within a solid legislative framework," Ramaphosa said. "Measures are being put in place to ensure the strengthening of resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and disasters."
The African continent contributes less than 6 percent of global greenhouses gas emissions and has often been disproportionately affected by more frequent extreme weather and climate events.
The August 28-30 TICAD summit hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was convened under the theme “advancing Africa’s development through technology, innovation and people” and sought to deepen trade and investment, capacity and skills development, networking and people’s exchange between African nations and the Asian country.
Ahead of the conference, Ramaphosa visited the Nissan Motor Corporation headquarters in Yokohama, where he engaged with business leaders at a South Africa-Japan business forum.
He encouraged potential investors to collaborate with South Africa and the broader African continent to establish their businesses in the world's next frontier market.
Ramaphosa invited investors to attend the South Africa Investment Conference scheduled for November.
"South Africa has been a good partner to Japanese businesses over the years, and we have been able to address the challenges and constraints that were raised, we seek to be an entrepreneurial nation and our objective is for business to succeed,” the president said.
With South Africa hosting Japanese investments of more than R90 billion, Ramaphosa called for expanded interaction between the countries' companies.
In a statement, the presidency said Ramaphosa also held a bilateral meeting with Abe where the two leaders agreed to cooperate in the maritime sector and in the protection of the marine environment, to investigate a possible expansion of access to the Japanese market for South African citrus producers, and to expand training programmes for South Africans in both countries.
Ramaphosa also addressed the TICAD science and technology in society forum which focused on forging international partnerships. He endorsed science, technology and innovation as a priority theme for the TICAD conference given its vast potential to accelerate African development.
“After all, it is science and innovation that produced vaccines that save the lives of millions of children on the continent,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also co-chaired sessions on accelerated economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement where he urged African nations states to review existing laws to lessen risks, tackle corruption and strengthen public accountability institutions in order to grow the continent's economy and attract foreign direct investment.
In addition, he addressed a Japan-South Africa business expo, where the Japan External Trade Organisation announced that 57 percent of Japanese firms currently based in Africa planned to expand their businesses.
Ramaphosa concluded his working visit to Japan on Thursday.