NATIONAL NEWS - President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday slammed critics who have labelled initiatives like the recent Russia-Africa Summit as “an attempt by world powers to expand their geopolitical influence”.
Writing in his weekly online column, Ramaphosa asserted: “Some have even argued that a number of countries in Africa are being led into a debt trap as they take up loans to fund a number of projects in their countries.
“One only needs to look at initiatives such as the Forum on China Africa Cooperation, which was last held in Beijing last year, to see that the focus is now on partnership for mutual benefit, on development, trade and investment.
“What we are witnessing is a dramatic rebalancing of the relationship between the world’s advanced economies and the African continent.
“We have consistently affirmed that Africa no longer wants to be a passive recipient of foreign aid.
“African countries are developing and their economies are increasingly in need of foreign direct investment.”
Ramaphosa last week led a high-profile government delegation to the first Russia-Africa Summit, convened in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
“For two days, heads of state from 43 African countries and their host, President Vladimir Putin, discussed how to increase trade and cooperation between the Russian Federation and Africa,” he said. “This was a sign of the growing economic importance of Africa on the world stage.”
Ramaphosa said the G20 countries launched their Compact with Africa in 2017 to promote private investment in Africa.
“China, Russia, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries and other large economies are eager to forge greater economic ties with Africa.”
OECD member countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
With the International Monetary Fund 2019 World Economic Outlook placing six of the fastest growing economies in Africa, “advanced economies want to take advantage of the many investment opportunities on offer, be they in infrastructure, energy, natural resource extraction, manufacturing or agriculture and agribusiness”.
Ramaphosa said opportunities for international investors will be further boosted when the African Continental Free Trade Area becomes operational next year, coinciding with South Africa assuming the chairmanship of the African Union.
“Not only will we have the opportunity to guide and oversee its implementation, but we will be taking on this responsibility in this new era of an emboldened Africa,” he said.
“This interest in the continent’s rapidly growing economies should encourage African countries to engage with various trade blocs on a more equal footing and on their own terms.”