South Africa is not inward looking. This is according to the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking to CNBC Africa in an exclusive interview. He was responding to a question by Pierre Celestin Rwabukumba, CEO of the Rwanda Stock Exchange on South Africa’s regional integration policy, which according to the African Development Bank, is often seen as inward looking and to what the most industrialised country should be doing as a leading country on the continent for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Elaborating Ramaphosa said: “I was a bit taken aback when the report said we are inward looking because in real effect South Africa isn’t. I have been travelling in a number of countries on our continent, recently I went Tanzania alone, and I found that there were 228 companies from South Africa that operate there and indeed if you go throughout the continent you will find that a number of South African companies that trade there. From a government point of view we have missions in nearly all the African countries on our continent, so in that alone we are a more of an outward looking type of South Africa.”
He added that South Africa wants to enhance this and that is why the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is going to have a major beneficial effect.
Explaining, Ramaphosa said this is because South Africa is going to be able to utilise the agreement to move goods and services from a non-tariff point of view and people will be able to move around the continent as well.
He however said the benefits will not only be a great opportunity to develop South Africa’s economy, but that of other countries.
“We want to trade more effectively with other regions on our continent and the Africa Free Trade agreement just gives us a greater opportunity which we are going to exploit to greater effect. South Africa is going to be much more open for business, trading and investment.
“We also want other African countries to come and invest in South Africa – this has been a sore point for me because not many African companies have been investing in our economy. We therefore want to enhance trade. I want to be drinking more and more coffee from Rwanda, Uganda and places like that rather than coffee from Columbia and places outside our continent and we want those economies to come and invest in our economy as well.”