President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on women to participate in shaping the economy on the African continent.
Ramaphosa said it was important that financial support be directed to women-owned businesses so that they can harness the benefits of the continental free trade area.
"There is a need to free women on the continent to enable them to participate in the global economy," said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa addressed business leaders, experts, academics, and delegates from across the globe who are attending the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.
Under the theme of BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism, the two-day summit is taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
In his opening remarks, Ramaphosa said the BRICS Business Council was a vital and vibrant platform for strengthening economic ties among member states and forging common perspectives on inclusive economic growth and development.
He said the changes in the BRICS economies over the past decade have done much to transform the shape of the global economy. He said the BRICS economies have emerged as powerful engines of global growth.
He said BRICS countries accounted for 40% of the global economy. “Trade between BRICS countries totalled some $162 billion (R3 trillion) last year,” he said.
During his address, Ramaphosa called on the business community to support the development of sustainable businesses to promote economic growth through sustainable investment opportunities. He said rapid economic, technological, and social changes could create new risks for employment, equality, and poverty in many BRICS countries.
"We call on the business community to join hands with us to identify solutions to these and other challenges affecting our respective economies," he said.
He said there was massive untapped potential for investment in the country and on the African continent. He added that the growth in African economies will be driven in the main by small and medium enterprises.
He said that Africa was a continent of great opportunity in the industrialisation process in a variety of sectors, given its critical minerals. Ramaphosa said the BRICS countries have an opportunity to contribute to and participate in Africa’s growth story.
"This can be achieved through greater cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, new energy, and the digital economy," he said.
He said that investing in skills development will position Africa as the next frontier of productivity and growth.
He further called on leaders to reaffirm their position that economic growth must be underpinned by transparency and inclusiveness.