South Africa is happy to attract investment from foreign powers but will remain independent from any outside influence, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Writing on his recent visit to the first Russia-Africa summit, Ramaphosa said that the global economy is witnessing 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 passive recipients of foreign aid. African countries are developing and their economies are increasingly in need of foreign direct investment,” he said.
However, Ramaphosa said it would be wrong to label initiatives like the Russia-Africa Summit as an attempt by world powers to expand their geopolitical influence.
“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 need only 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 cooperation and integration.”
Ramaphosa said that China, Russia, and other large economies are eager to forge greater economic ties with African countries because they want to ‘harness the current climate of reform, the deepening of good governance, macro-economic stability and the opening up of economies across the continent for mutual benefit’.
With the IMF 2019 World Economic Outlook placing six of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, the world’s 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, said Ramaphosa.
He added that opportunities for international investors will be further boosted when the African Continental Free Trade Area becomes operational next year.
“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,” he said.
“We are ever mindful of our colonial history, where the economies of Europe were able to industrialise and develop by extracting resources from Africa, all the while leaving the colonies underdeveloped.
“Even now, African countries are still trying to stop the extraction of its resources, this time in the form of illicit financial flows through commercial transactions, tax evasion, transfer pricing and illegal activities that cost the continent over $50 billion a year.”
Ramaphosa said that the message from African leaders at the Russia-Africa summit was clear: Africa needs greater levels of investment. It wants access to markets for its products, goods and services.
“It wants to forge economic relationships of mutual benefit that develop our respective countries and uplift our people.
“The age where ‘development’ was imposed from outside without taking into account the material conditions and respective requirements of our countries is now past,” he said.