President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the Intra African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF2021) at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. Photo: Siyabulela Duda
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the Intra African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF2021) at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. Photo: Siyabulela Duda

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to strengthen the African continent’s industrial base

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Nov 16, 2021

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PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has sent a strong message to African countries to strengthen the continent’s industrial base and produce goods for themselves and each other.

Delivering a keynote address at the second Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF2021) yesterday, Ramaphosa said Africa imports about 94 percent of its pharmaceutical and medicinal needs from outside the continent at an annual cost of $16 billion (R245bn).

He said this clearly demonstrated that Africa needed to produce its own food and medicines, to strengthen continental supply chains, and to invest in infrastructure and capacitate African institutions.

Ramaphosa said the IATF2021 would further cement its position as Africa’s premier trade platform, where African manufacturers can promote and sell more “Made in Africa” goods to one another.

“This is critical if we are to change the distorted trade relationship that exists between African countries and the rest of the world,” Ramaphosa said.

“We can no longer have a situation where Africa exports raw materials and imports finished goods made with those materials.

“We can no longer have a situation where the resources of Africa provide employment and add value in other economies, while so many of our people live in poverty and conditions of under-development.

“We need, as Africans, to resist the temptation to simply become transshipment centres, adding only limited industrial value in Africa.”

The IATF is held to usher in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which aspires to connect all the regions of Africa, to deepen economic integration and to boost intra-African trade and investment. AfCFTA also aspires to create a single market for goods and services across 55 countries and our continent, creating a market of as much as 1.3 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion.

Ramaphosa said the AfCFTA would provide new export opportunities for “Made in Africa” products and enable member countries to trade with each other without tariffs or other hindrances, helping the continent to absorb the 10 to 12 million African youth looking to enter the job market annually.

“It is about creating a market large enough to attract investors from across the world to set up their production facilities on the continent,” Ramaphosa said. “It is about using the combination of the continent’s raw materials and industrial capacity, finance, services and infrastructure to produce quality finished goods to local and global markets.

He also urged countries to work with speed to resolve any outstanding issues around the AfCFTA. “Let those countries who have not already ratified it do so; and let us take the necessary steps towards domestication,” Ramaphosa said.

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