President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa on Friday concluded working visits to three members of the Economic Community of West African States.
In a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C., his office described the visits as successful.
It said: “The visits to the Republic of Guinea, the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of Togo from 04 to 06 December 2019 were directed at deepening political, economic and social relations between South Africa and sister countries.
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The visits also formed part of the prelude to South Africa’s assumption of the Chairship of the African Union early in 2020, as well as the inception of the African Continental Free Trade Area in the middle of 2020.
The visits were marked by a strong focus on measures that could be taken to enhance trade, investment, infrastructure development and the transfer of skills and technology between South Africa and the respective partner states.
In agriculture in particular, cooperation will facilitate the transition from subsistence farming to commercially scaleable cultivation and the beneficiation of agricultural products within comprehensive value chains.
South Africa and the three states will also cooperate in defence and security as part of the African Union’s “Silencing of the Guns” campaign which forms part of the continent’s developmental Agenda 2063 and seeks to end all forms of conflict and insecurity from politically motivated conflicts to gender-based violence.
The host Presidents expressed their support for South Africa’s Chairship of the AU and shared South Africa’s positive anticipation of an era of free trade across the Continent.
In the Republic of Guinea, President Ramaphosa and His Excellency President Professor Alpha Condé discussed wide-ranging discussions on bilateral relations as well as on regional and international issues of common interest.
They have agreed to consider developing new agreements in various areas to promote the exchange of expertise between the countries.
The Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening and deepening bilateral relations by holding regular sessions of the Joint Commission of Cooperation, the third of which will be held in Conakry in 2020.
During his visit to Accra, Ghana, President Ramaphosa and His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo engaged on areas of cooperation in defence, security, agriculture, sports, arts and culture and infrastructure development, among other areas.
The leaders also witnessed the signing of an agreement to establish a Bi-National Commission between the two countries, which will elevate relations to the Presidential level.
President Akufo-Addo commended President Ramaphosa for dispatching Special Envoys to a number of countries, including Ghana, whose nationals were affected by violence in South Africa several months ago.
President Ramaphosa congratulated President Akufo-Addo on Ghana’s designation as the seat of the Permanent Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which comes to force in 2020.
At the conclusion of his working visit in Togo, President Ramaphosa and His Excellency President Faure Gnassingbé witnessed the signing of a cooperation framework agreement that will enable partnership in a number of fields including agro-processing, port management, mining and energy.
The two leaders agreed to encourage business people from South Africa to Togo to explore opportunities for trade and mutual investment as well as the promotion of tourism between the two countries.
Addressing continental concerns, the two leaders strongly condemned continued terrorist and extremist activities in various regions of the Continent.
President Ramaphosa expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to visit the Autonomous Port of Lomé, a strategic logistical hub for the region.
The Port of Lomé is a transshipment hub for the West African sub-region and provides important economic infrastructure and networks to surrounding landlocked states.
In terms of Togo’s National Development Plan, the Lomé port is due to expand container terminals and fishing wharfs. This provides opportunities for South African enterprises wishing to enter the West African sub-region as well as companies that could play a role in the port expansion projects.
South Africa was commended for the role it is currently playing as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council and its anticipated role as Chair of the African Union in 2020.
On the three visits, President Ramaphosa invited businesses in Guinea, Ghana and Togo to identify opportunities for partnerships with South African counterparts in the interest of advancing mutual development and growth.
President Ramaphosa was accompanied by the following Ministers: International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza; Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; State Security, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, and Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Fikile Majola.
President Ramaphosa returns to South Africa this evening, Friday 06 December 2019″.