Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

SA a ‘favourable, reliable and stable place’ to conduct business – Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa says trade between the two countries had reached $5 billion.

More than 100 South African business people from various sectors of the economy are tagging along President Cyril Ramaphosa on his state visit to Saudi Arabia, eager to unlock business opportunities between the two countries.

Last week, South Africa hosted a Saudi government and business delegation in Pretoria, launched the Saudi-South African Business Council, and held the 9th Session of the Joint Economic Commission.

On Saturday, Ramaphosa told the Saudi Arabia-South Africa Investment Conference that he was encouraged by the positive feedback from these events, the warmth in the business relationship, and appetite by the private sector, from both countries for deeper partnerships.

The president arrived in Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Friday for an official state visit to last until Sunday, at the invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

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‘Booming’ trade

He said trade between the two countries had reached $5 billion, and believed this could be increased further in the next few years.

Ramaphosa said just as Saudi Arabia was positioned as the gateway to the Middle East and to the region, South Africa was the gateway to a dynamic continent with great prospects.

South Africa is a leading mining economy, a sector which has been an integral part of the country’s economic history for over a century, Ramaphosa told the conference.

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He said South Africa not only has mineral resources but also capability, capacity and solid experience.

Ramaphosa said since Saudi Arabia was interested in developing its own substantial mining resources, SA could offer expertise in mining services, technologies, equipment and components.

SA ‘perfect for business

Ramaphosa said South Africa was a “favourable, reliable and stable place” to conduct business, with “sophisticated financial systems” and Africa’s deepest capital market, as well as a robust and strong rule of law, protection of contracts and property rights.

“I want to call on Saudi business to be part of the renewed momentum of international investors coming to South Africa. Through a targeted outreach to global and local businesses we have so far attracted investment commitments to the value of approximately $70 billion, and this number is growing,” he said.

Ramaphosa said this positive investor sentiment was in part due to the process of ongoing regulatory and legislative reform aimed at making SA economy more competitive, to attract more investment and to create more jobs.

He said these far-reaching reforms were taking place in energy, transportation, telecoms, water, rail, ports and across the network industries.

Partnership opportunities

Ramaphosa said Saudi companies had access to capital, know-how and markets, saying there were many opportunities for joint ventures and industrial partnerships between the two business communities to foster greater trade and investment.

“For example, we can do partnerships in fertilizer production, chemicals, and can supply a wider range of food products to Saudi markets. South Africa’s services sectors and professional skills are highly regarded across the Middle East,” he said.

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Ramaphosa said SA has been following with great interest the Neom project on the Red Sea Coast.

He said with plans to source 100% of Neom’s energy from renewable sources, including hydrogen-based power, Saudi investors would find substantial opportunities to leverage in South Africa in this regard.

“Similarly, there are opportunities for South African business to leverage at Neom. We are the world’s largest producer of platinum, a key input in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

“Our ambitious plans to unlock the potential of the green hydrogen economy include developing a Hydrogen Valley that stretches from the platinum belt through the country’s industrial heartland,” Ramaphosa said.

He said a number of multinational investors like Anglo-American Platinum have already begun leveraging these opportunities.

Read more on these topics

Cyril Ramaphosa economy Saudi Arabia

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