By SA News
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the “phenomenally successful” official State Visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this weekend has paved the way for billions of dollars’ worth of investments to flow into South Africa.
The visit to the Middle Eastern country was aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and trade relations between the two countries.
The President was accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform Thoko Didiza, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula on the visit.
The Ministers signed at least 17 Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) in areas such as transport, defence, energy and agriculture.
Coupled with that, some $15 billion in investment agreements were signed between businesses during the South Africa – Saudi Arabia Investment Forum held in the country on Saturday.
“This has been a phenomenally successful visit for us and the good thing is that this visit has been more focused on the economy as well as advancing our diplomatic, as well as political relations with Saudi Arabia.
“But the economic side and the business side have really underpinned the real substance of this visit. We had extensive discussions with His Royal Highness the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud] last night…and we covered a great deal of ground. The fact that we signed up to 17 MOUs testifies to the real great success that we have achieved here,” he said.
President Ramaphosa reflected that the last official State Visit to the country in 2018, where Saudi Arabia committed to invest some $10 billion in South Africa, in many ways planted the seed for fostering greater ties between the two countries.
“That seed has been germinating and thus far $1 billion has been invested in South Africa through a company called ACWA Power and Renewable Energy. We are now going to be seeing more of those billions that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very keen to invest in South Africa beginning to flow underpinned by the 17 MOUs that we have signed, and of course, our budget in 2018.
“COVID-19 intervened and stalled and delayed everything [however] we’re now going to see everything gathering pace and momentum,” he said.
President Ramaphosa emphasised that although many agreements have been signed, implementation is key to see them bearing tangible fruit.
Within three months, meetings will be held to “see the extent to which this is going to be implemented”.
“Both private sector owned businesses as well as public sector owned businesses are very serious, they are action oriented, they’re outcomes oriented [and] they want to see implementation. [The] Crown Prince and myself have committed that we are going to be monitoring the implementation of all this.
“We want the implementation to be immediate. For us on our side, clearly we are in a great deal of hurry. The unemployment rate in our country is undesirable and we need to ensure that whatever economic opportunities we get, we grasp with both hands and ensure that all those who are responsible get to implement,” he said.
Relations between the two countries have been formalised since 1994 and President Ramaphosa said this long standing cordiality is a good foundation on which to build.
“[The] solid relationship that exists between our two countries is a good springboard from which to be able to base the great success that we hope to achieve. So we’re very happy and I think we go home not empty handed.
“During the business forum, business people were able and Saudi business people were able to craft agreements that will amount to about $15 billion both ways. So I’m looking at easily, quite a lot of billions of dollars being invested also in our economy.
“So I think we are on a good roll in terms of our relationship with Saudi Arabia which is based on really solid economic parameters and that, for me, behoves well for a future that will be a good one for all peoples,” he said.