President Cyril Ramaphosa has concluded his State Visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, where he championed a new partnership between British capital and technology and South African opportunity and industrial capacity.
The President led a South African delegation on the first such visit to be hosted by His Majesty King Charles III and the Queen Consort.
During the visit, the President interacted with King Charles III, and with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street.
The President also received a courtesy call by Leader of the opposition Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer.
The President has expressed his appreciation for the warmth of King Charles III’s hosting of the State Visit as well as the King’s open and visionary engagement on development, education, the environment and mitigation of climate change.
The President’s engagement with Prime Minister Sunak centred on upgrading trade and investment levels between the two countries and creating more opportunities in British markets for South African goods and commodities, to protect jobs in South Africa and grow the country’s manufacturing and agricultural industry.
The leaders discussed cooperation in trade and investment, energy, health, science, environment and higher education and innovation, including the promotion of education and skills exchange programmes in academia and technical skills for youth.
President Ramaphosa and Prime Minister Sunak also engaged on the Just Energy Transition Investment Partnership in which the United Kingdom has committed itself alongside the United States, the European Union, France and Germany to provide financial support for South Africa’s transition to an economy and energy mix that is less dependent on coal.
The President and Prime Sunak explored ways in which the partnership could increase the proportion of financing that could be presented as grants rather than concessional funding including loans.
Accompanied by UK Secretary of State for International Trade The Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch, MP, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition participated in a UK-SA Business Forum and roundtable where investors pledged continued engagement with South Africa.
President Ramaphosa assured business leaders of South Africa’s continued support for existing and prospective investors and outlined the numerous opportunities on offer to investors in a diversified economy where economic growth is required for South Africa to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
During the visit, the President positioned South Africa as a key destination for investment and as a gateway to a dynamic continent that is expanding its production, is rapidly urbanising and has a young population.
South Africa is a leading mining economy, with proven capabilities in advanced manufacturing, science and technology.
South Africa has sophisticated financial systems and Africa’s deepest capital market, where the rule of law is strong and there is firm protection of contracts and property rights.
In this context, President Ramaphosa urged – in an address to a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor Alderman Nicholas Lyons and the City of London Corporation – a new partnership between the United Kingdom and South Africa.
The President envisions a new partnership around investment; climate change and green industry; science, innovation and technology, and trade in goods and services.
Accompanied by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and brother to King Charles III, President Ramaphosa had the opportunity to visit Kew Gardens in West London where he received a briefing on cooperation between the United Kingdom and South Africa in the area of botanical sciences and the conservation of potentially or already endangered plant species. Here, the President also participated in a roundtable discussion on biodiversity and climate change.
The President paid a visit to the Francis Crick Institute for biomedical research in London where a number of South African scientists, including PhD candidates, are contributing to or leading research into epidemics such as COVID-19 and other global health threats such as the Hepatitis B virus and tuberculosis.
At this visit, the President and Prince Edward witnessed the signing of memoranda of understanding that anticipate closer cooperation between South Africa and the United Kingdom in health, and science, technology, research and innovation.
The memoranda were signed by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande and Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla and their respective counterparts, the UK Minister Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Minister Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
The President’s visit has cemented the strong bonds that exist between the United Kingdom and South Africa, characterised by a shared history and a common desire to tackle today’s challenges and aspirations.
President Ramaphosa described his visit to Buckingham Palace as historic and memorable, providing the United Kingdom and South Africa the opportunity to deepen bilateral ties as well as cooperation through other forums, including the Commonwealth.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Presidency: Republic of South Africa.