President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering Opening Remarks on the occasion of the Second Session of the South Africa-Ghana Bi-National Commission (BNC) held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), OR Tambo Building, 12 March 2024

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering Opening Remarks on the occasion of the Second Session of the South Africa-Ghana Bi-National Commission (BNC) held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), OR Tambo Building, 12 March 2024


Your Excellency, President Nana Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana,

Honourable Ministers,

High Commissioners,

Senior Officials,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good Morning,


Welcome to the Second Session of the Bi-National Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Ghana.


It is an honour, my dear brother, to receive you and your delegation in this most auspicious year for South Africa, when we mark 30 years since the birth of our democracy.


We know that our freedom would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of the Ghanaian people.


In 1998 President Nelson Mandela affirmed the deep fraternal bonds between our two countries when he said:


“The history of South Africa’s struggle, our current day thinking and even our plans for the future have many links with Ghana. On gaining its own independence, Ghana provided much strength and great inspiration to the liberation movements of Africa. We were deeply inspired by the ideas emanating from Ghana, through the person of that noble visionary, Kwame Nkrumah.”


This Second Session of the South Africa-Ghana Binational Commission is an opportunity to affirm our friendship once more, to deepen our bilateral ties and to strengthen the noble cause of African economic integration as espoused by the African Union’s Agenda 2063.


As home to the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which brings together the 55 countries of the AU and the eight Regional Economic Communities, Ghana is a leading force in the economic integration and development of our continent. We thank you, Mr President, for lending your support to the Secretariat and to the AfCFTA Secretary-General, Mr Wamkele Mene.


We meet at a time when the state of peace and security is fragile, not just in Africa but across the globe.


Internal strife, conflicts and wars, compounded by terrorism and violent extremism, are a major obstacle to peace, security and stability. They threaten to constrain our developmental efforts and our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.


The situations in Sudan, Somalia, Libya and the Sahel, among others, are of grave concern, as are the armed hostilities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the extremist insurrection in northern Mozambique.


We have to redouble our efforts to Silence the Guns in Africa, and to capacitate the African Union and our Regional Economic Communities to do more in pursuit of peace and stability.


This will be an important year for democracy in Africa, with 19 African countries – including South Africa and Ghana – holding presidential or national elections in 2024. These elections are important for the quality of governance and the strength of democracy on our continent.


We must however be concerned that in several parts of the continent, unconstitutional changes of government, particularly through military coups, are on the rise.


Global developments, such as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, continue to threaten food and energy security in Africa.


As African nations, with our own bitter experiences of colonial occupation, we are extremely concerned by the terrible events in Palestine and the suffering unleashed on the people of Gaza.


On our own continent, the matter of Western Sahara remains unresolved.


As we pursue our own developmental goals, we stand in solidarity with all who continue to suffer the effects of occupation and dispossession.


Mr President, we inaugurated this BNC when you hosted me in Accra in 2020.


There are 24 agreements and memoranda of understanding between South Africa and Ghana covering various areas of economic, technical, scientific, social and cultural cooperation.


We have to accelerate implementation of these agreements and finalise discussions on additional agreements.


One of the recent highlights in our bilateral relations was the signing of the reciprocal visa exemption for ordinary passport holders for a period of 90 days per annum, which entered into force on 1 November 2023.


This has resulted in a considerable increase of travellers between our two countries; contributing not only to tourism but towards enhancing business-to-business links, educational and scientific exchanges, and people-to-people ties.


In addition to the many areas of cooperation that the BNC covers, it is important that we explore how best both countries can increase trade and investment among ourselves.


The purpose of the Business Forum that will take place on the margins of this BNC is to expand trade and investment between our two countries.


Ghana is host to several South African companies. Our companies are keen to expand their investments in Ghana and look to us to work together to improve the business environment. We invite investors from Ghana to look at opportunities in our country.


Collaboration between our private sectors and state-owned entities is particularly important.


Bidding for procurement contracts in each other’s countries, instead of sourcing from outside the continent, would be desirable and commercially viable.


South African companies, including several in the banking sector, have expressed interest in exploring opportunities in line with your country’s investment plans.


There is also scope for collaboration in infrastructure between our two economies, particularly in the building of dry ports, railway networks, airports and hospital facilities. There are also opportunities to be explored in the pre-chemicals sector.


As we are both coastal countries, maritime shipping and the related economy holds potential for us and opportunities should be explored further in this regard.


We need to work together to reverse the decline in trade between our countries over the past four years.


The implementation of preferential trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area is a game-changer and likely to fundamentally transform trade relations on the continent.


On 31 January 2024, South Africa sent its first shipment to Ghana and other countries under the AfCFTA Agreement. This is an important first step.


For many African countries, the start of preferential trade will create great opportunities for growth and development.


I therefore look forward to our deliberations today and to the opportunities that it will bring for the people of Ghana and South Africa.


I thank you.


Issued by: The Presidency