2 Dec 2021

We have just concluded an historic and very significant engagement between South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire.

It is historic because this is the first State Visit between our two countries since the establishment of diplomatic relations many years ago.

It is significant because of the ambition of our efforts at political and economic collaboration between our two countries.

This State Visit aims to strengthen bilateral relations between our two countries with a view to create a strategic partnership that will be enduring and mutually-beneficial.

We have just witnessed the signing of ten Memoranda of Understanding and Agreements in various areas of cooperation.

We have undertaken to deepen trade and investment between our two countries.

Based on the priorities and comparative advantages of both our countries, we have agreed on the need to increase investment in value addition in agriculture and agro-processing, and in the development of the mining sector.

We will prioritise investment in public-private infrastructure projects as outlined in the Ivorian National Development Plan 2021-2025.

We are looking to expand trade in petroleum products, fresh produce, retail and agricultural products, and to explore opportunities for medical and educational tourism.

The portfolio of South African investment in Côte d’Ivoire is growing rapidly.

A number of South African companies, including major banks and telecommunication companies that are operating in Côte d’Ivoire.

Several of our state-owned enterprises are negotiating investment promotion activities in sectors such as oil and gas, mining and geoscience.

Tomorrow, your Prime Minister and I will address a Business Forum that brings together South African and Ivorian business people to promote trade and investment between the two countries.

By increasing economic cooperation, we are looking to address our common challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, with a particular focus on the empowerment of women, youth and people with disabilities.

In this regard, I am particularly pleased with the signing of an agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Youth, and a cooperation agreement in the fields of Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality.

As countries, and as a continent, we remain seized with the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for an urgent and effective recovery.

I want to use this opportunity to thank President Ouattara for the demonstration of solidarity in agreeing that this State Visit should go ahead.

The imposition of travel bans on South Africa and a number of countries in the Southern African region are regrettable, unfair and unscientific.

Given that it was our own African scientists who first detected the Omicron variant, it is also a slap in the face of African excellence and expertise.

These bans will cause untold damage in particular to travel and tourism industries that sustain businesses and livelihoods in South Africa and the Southern African region.

I want to use this opportunity to once again call on the countries who have imposed these travel restrictions to urgently reconsider their decision and lift these bans.

Whilst we respect the right of every country to take measures to protect their people, the sustained global cooperation we need to overcome the pandemic necessitates that we are led by science.

As South Africa we stand firmly against any form of health apartheid in the fight against this pandemic.

Your Excellency, You and I remain concerned that Africa and the rest of the developing world continue to struggle with limited access to the much-needed lifesaving vaccines.

Governments and international partners need to unite around a global guarantee which ensures that vaccines and treatments are produced at scale and made freely and equitably available to all people.

President Ouattara and I also discussed opportunities to strengthen our collaboration in advancing the goals of the African Union for peace, security and development.

We remain firmly focused on efforts to strengthen the African Peace and Security Architecture and its structures.

We also discussed the consolidation of democracy on the African continent along the principles of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

We applaud the efforts of the President and Ivorian people to foster national reconciliation.

South Africa remains ready to share its experience whenever called upon in this regard.

We have agreed to work together on multilateral and global issues of mutual concern, including the reform of the UN Security Council.

In conclusion, this has been for us a most productive and rewarding State Visit and engagement, giving real meaning and purpose to this historic first State Visit.

The Diplomatic Informer
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