President Cyril Ramaphosa has concluded a working visit to Biarritz, France, where he urged the world's most advanced economies to partner with South Africa and the continent of Africa in exploring the opportunities presented by free trade and the digital economy, and in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
President Ramaphosa was invited by French President Emmanuel Macron to participate in the 2019 G7 Summit which was dedicated to addressing inequalities in its various forms in global society.
The Summit was structured into three tracks: G7 and Africa Partnership (South Africa, Rwanda, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Senegal and the Chair of the African Union Commission), G7 and four Biarritz Partners (South Africa, India, Australia and Chile), and the G7 and all partners.
During the two-day working visit on 25 and 26 August 2019, President Ramaphosa addressed various Summit forums and participated in a working lunch that brought together African Union Chair President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Macky Sell of Senegal and President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso.
The President also held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Sebastian Pinera of Chile, and former Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte.
With South Africa due to become Chair of the African Union for a one-year term in 2020, President Ramaphosa used the bilateral engagements to solicit support for the African Union's realisation of its developmental Agenda 2063.
President Ramaphosa also expressed South Africa's commitment to mitigation of climate change, as well as to a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy that will protect jobs and livelihoods and give communities equitable, affordable access to emerging alternatives in energy.
The President highlighted the potential opportunities arising for the continent of Africa and global partners from the inception of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area that will create the world's largest single free trade area with a market of 1,2 billion people.
I would like to commend the leaders of the G7 for seeking to reorient its relationship with Africa to tackle these challenges.
We are therefore looking forward to developing concrete initiatives through the G7 Africa partnership that will support Agenda 2063 and the digital transformation of Africa.
The President urged his African counterparts and G7 leaders to support interventions to silence the guns of conflict in Africa. Peace and stability was a key theme of the G7 Africa Partnership dialogue.
President Ramaphosa commended G7 leaders for seeking to reorient the relationship with Africa to tackle developmental challenges and said the advent of 4th Industrial Revolution technologies and the increasing automation of services through artificial intelligence and robotics was an important development in human progress. It presented unprecedented opportunities while at the same time posing a serious threat to the conventional way of living and working.
If deliberate efforts were not taken, the digital divide could widen and worsen economic disparities.
The President urged the G7 to remain engaged with Africa to ensure digitisation reduces inequality and supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and inclusive economic growth.
In keeping with the Summit's focus on inequality, President Ramaphosa said the empowerment of women was central in poverty eradication and promoting inclusive economic growth in Africa.
In this regard, eliminating financing barriers that discriminate against women can increase women entrepreneurship while expanding economic opportunities and enabling them to participate meaningfully in the economy, the President said.
The empowerment of women, particularly through the vehicle of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) will positively contribute to inclusive growth, and in turn address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Later today, Monday 26 August 2019, President Ramaphosa will travel from France to Yokohama, Japan, where he will participate in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
The Tokyo International Conference on African Development will be convened under the theme of Advancing Africa's Development through Technology, Innovation and People.
TICAD is a multilateral leaders' forum on African development that was first convened in 1993 in Japan.
TICAD VII has identified three overarching priorities, namely accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement; deepening sustainable and resilient society, and strengthening peace and stability.
The Summit will focus on science, technology and innovation; human resource development and education; the oceans economy; climate change and disaster risk reduction, and agriculture.
Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa