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President Cyril Ramaphosa says the time has come for Africa to become self-reliant.
The Russian-Ukraine conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic has seen most African countries struggle to access medicines, oil and agricultural inputs they need for their citizens.
“We want African countries to be self-reliant when it comes to fertiliser production and we are going to be working with the G7 countries to see how best we can reach that level.”
Speaking in an interview after wrapping up his visit to Germany, where he attended the G7 leaders’ summit, Ramaphosa said a proposal, similar to that of how Africa managed the Covid-19 pandemic vaccines, was in the pipeline.
“I am particularly pleased about this prospect, that we should improve fertiliser production so as to secure food security. If we want to secure food security, be it grains or any other food commodity, it is fertiliser that is going to make us reach that level.”
Ramaphosa said SA’s participation this year took place at a time when the world was confronted by myriad challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in the high cost of living in many developing countries.
Ramaphosa, who represented the continent with AU chair Macky Sall, Senegal’s president, met India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “to reflect on the path that we had traversed with India and many other countries, on the issue of the Trips [agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights] waiver at the World Trade Organization”.
“We argued against the views expressed by many of the G7 countries and finally got them to concede that there should be a waiver.”
As he and Sall represented Africa so well on the matter, Ramaphosa said, “we also felt that we should use that as a foundation for further discussions and warn them that we want to see concessions when we discuss the issue of therapeutics and diagnostics, which the WTO is going to handle in six months”.
Furthermore, he said, “We argued that we want to see them making concessions so that countries in the developing economies should be able to make therapeutics and diagnostics so that we don’t end up making vaccines only.
“We also argued that we want them as G7 countries, together with their associations, to buy vaccines made in Africa for their own environments, as well as for other African countries to whom they may donate. We were very pleased that when it comes to the issue of vaccines therapeutics and diagnostics, we put forward a very convincing case.”
Ramaphosa said he had urged the international community to work together towards a new treaty for pandemic preparedness and response.
On climate change, Ramaphosa said G7 countries recognised that many developing-economy countries were not responsible for the carbon emissions that have led to climate change.
“They recognise that they have a responsibility and also have to pledge solidarity to assist us as we traverse towards renewable energy type of economic development and that they need to make funding available.
“They recognise that regarding the COP that happened in Paris, they did not live up to their commitments to provide funding for developing economies so that we can begin to mitigate climate change.
“We also recognised the deal that was made in COP26 and that the negotiations are now under way with regard to the $8.5bn [R136.35bn] that has been made available for SA. Germany added another €300m [R5.06bn] that it said it would make available.”
He said negotiations were still going to ensue to establish what the package means for SA. “But we made it clear that we will be able to embark on a transition only [if we can] ensure that the jobs of our mineworkers are not affected and the communities that live in and about mining towns are not adversely affected — so we need to manage the transition very well.”
On gender equality and empowerment of women, Ramaphosa said he believed this was a concept that was being embraced by G7 countries.
“We had a presentation from the Gender Equality Advisory Council ... The important thing they raised is that we need to mainstream the whole issue of gender equality and also begin to look at gender budgeting and inculcating it into our budgeting processes.”
This, he said, means a lot for SA because the country has been grappling with how it can begin to have gender budgeting within the entire budget architecture.
In his discussions with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ramaphosa discussed the speedy resolution of the conflict in Ukraine and how to further enhance bilateral trade relations.
Food security was also on the agenda, said Ramaphosa.
He said food prices have gone up, there is a shortage of fertiliser, the cereals and grains that Russia and Ukraine are producing are not getting through and this has led to huge shortages, with rising prices in many developing countries.
On the sidelines of the summit, Ramaphosa met several heads of state and government, including Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.