In his weekly newsletter published on the 7th of October 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the country’s future lies within the African continent. He further went on to state that it is through increased trade with African states that South Africa can recover and grow its economy. President Ramaphosa’s sentiments come as the country is to assume the African Union (AU) Chairship and with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) having come into force.
As the incoming Chair of the African Union (AU), South Africa will be tasked with implementation of the AfCFTA and will need the support of all AU member states in growing and solidifying intra-Africa trade. Mending and maintaining good relations with the rest of the African continent is not only paramount for the growth of South Africa and its economy but offers opportunities for much-needed growth for the rest of the continent. However, it needs to be said that South Africa cannot do it alone and the full realisation of the AfCFTA will rely heavily on collaborative efforts with and between African states.
Working together, African leaders must ensure that the continent’s vast population and resources work for the benefit of Africans and avoid any new form of colonisation. There is a scramble for Africa and its resources, as demonstrated by Summits such as the Japan-Africa, India-Africa, China-Africa, US-Africa and Russia-Africa gatherings. African leaders ought to start speaking with one voice and demand equal partnership in these Summits, instead of engaging countries with a cup in hand. Any interaction with Africa must be on the basis of equal partnership and anything not resembling that should be rejected outright. Not discounting the massive challenges faced by the continent, countries such as China and the US would not make the effort to woo African leaders if they had not spotted an opportunity.
As opposed to looking at other countries to develop the continent, African leaders should focus their energies on the AfCFTA which possesses endless opportunities for ensuring Africa’s development and prosperity.
President Ramaphosa talked up the new generation of African leaders at the Financial Times Africa Summit 2019, who are actively promoting greater economic development within their respective economic regions with the ultimate goal of full continental integration. In his address, he also made it a point to drive home the fact that Africa needs investment more than it needs foreign aid for its development. This is a time for partnership and not handouts; and it seems African leaders have finally woken up to that realisation.