Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the DRC-South Africa Business Forum, 12th Session of DRC-SA Binational Commission, Kinshasa, DRC, 6 July 2023
His Excellency Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Minister of Industry of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Julien Paluku Kahongya,
Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa, Mr Ebrahim Patel,
Ministers from the DRC and South Africa,
Leaders of business from the DRC and South Africa,
Representatives of industry bodies and business organisations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank you once again, my dear brother President Tshisekedi, for the warm welcome to your beautiful country.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the beating heart of Africa and is a country of immense importance to the history of our continent.
The DRC has an equally important role to play in the future of our continent, with its minerals propelling the new green industrial revolution.
It is for this reason that we want to see more South African companies investing in the DRC, and likewise to see more Congolese companies investing in the South African economy.
The meeting today of the 12th Session of the Bi-National Commission between our two countries underscores the importance of our relationship.
Our visit today comes at a time when we face many challenges.
These challenges include the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising food and fuel prices due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the devastation being wrought on economies and communities by climate change.
And yet even though we face a number of challenges, we are a continent brimming with potential and opportunity.
From North Africa to South Africa, from East to West, and here in Central Africa, we are favoured with vast endowments.
We have abundant mineral resources and fossil fuel reserves, large tracts of arable land, and, in many parts, abundant water supply. We have a diverse terrain that supports all manner of infrastructure development, including renewable energy.
And yet these vast endowments are not producing favourable economic and developmental outcomes evenly across the continent.
We are meeting here today as business from the DRC and South Africa because we see not obstacles, but opportunities.
Beyond our natural endowments we have many other strengths as a continent.
Africa is a young continent.
Approximately 70 per cent of the sub-Saharan Africa population is under the age of 30.
Africa’s youth are Digital Natives, having grown up in the information age. They are tech savvy and are leading the way in the use and consumption of new technologies.
Africa is growing. It is estimated that by 2050, Africa’s population will grow to 2.5 billion people with a new generation that is more urbanised, better educated and wealthier than any that has come before it.
Africa is urbanising, providing networks of skills and opportunity that can drive Africa’s development.
By some projections, the urban population of Africa will be larger than that of China and India, and four times larger than that of the United States.
To realise the opportunity of this demographic dividend, we will need to rapidly expand and diversify our industrial capacity.
We need to shift away from simply being producers of raw materials that are processed elsewhere in the world.
Africa’s appetite for industrialisation has been whetted.
Across the continent we see new investment in factories and logistics systems that can power higher levels of growth and jobs.
COVID-19 taught us the importance of Africa developing its industrial base.
We were left stranded without the resources to fight the pandemic. We could not access sufficient supplies of medical-grade face masks, ventilators, surgical gowns, hand sanitisers, testing kits and later vaccines.
Through our efforts to repurpose industrial capabilities, the continent was able to reverse this, becoming a manufacturer of all these products, including vaccines, and exporting products to each other.
The crisis taught us valuable lessons for the future.
One of those lessons is that Africa’s industrial base, while growing, needs to be much deeper and larger.
It requires significant investment in science and innovation, a conducive environment for new investment, promoting skills development within the workforce and greater levels of trade with each other.
South Africa and the DRC can be leaders in this important project of ensuring African raw materials are processed on the African continent.
We can combine our raw materials and skills, our technology and capital, our young people, and universities into a powerful drive to industrialise.
There are immediate opportunities, from the potential in the food industry; to critical raw materials needed to build new green industries. There are opportunities in the supply of mining equipment and know-how as well as in services like telecommunications, banking and retail.
We have an opportunity to develop an integrated supply-chain for electric vehicle battery manufacturing here on the continent, using our combined resources and capacities.
This is one of the most important initiatives we can take to ensure that Africa can be a leading manufacturer and I look forward to taking this forward with President Tshisekedi.
I have listened carefully to the report that has been given by business people today and the remarks by our two Ministers.
I am pleased that we have several South African companies present in the DRC and many of the firms are represented here today. I know there are a number of Congolese businesses operating in South Africa.
There is no doubt that the potential is vast.
We must work more closely to address the challenges that have been identified by the private sector and work to overcome them.
We have agreed that South Africa will host the next Joint Bilateral Working Committee before the end of 2023.
We have also agreed to joint technical teams to address both trade challenges and problems experienced by investors.
As South Africa, we have set ourselves a target of raising R2 trillion in new investment over the next five years.
At current exchange rates, that would require 51 trillion Congolese francs annually.
We need Congolese businesspeople to invest in South Africa, to find opportunities to expand your businesses here by setting up subsidiaries in South Africa.
I therefore invite the Congolese private sector to attend the next South Africa Investment Conference to be held in March next year and join us in this effort to grow our overall investment base with more African investment.
As a continent we do have several challenges, but we must take our destiny into our own hands.
We are determined to ensure that all Africans benefit from their fair share of global growth and development.
I am certain that working together, deepening our cooperation and exploring new avenues of endeavour, we can achieve a better future for our continent and its people.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency