Ramaphosa lauds Qatar’s mediation efforts in Middle East ‘horror story’ as he woos investors

The president said even in moments of great global crisis Qatar and South Africa have always worked well

15 November 2023 - 16:18
By Amanda Khoza
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a South African Qatar roundtable on his first day of the two-day state visit on Wednesday.
Image: GCIS. President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a South African Qatar roundtable on his first day of the two-day state visit on Wednesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa applauded Qatar’s stance in the ongoing “horror story” unfolding in Palestine, saying South Africa admires the Qatari government’s mediation efforts. 

Speaking during a South Africa-Qatar business roundtable on the first day of his state visit in the Gulf region, Ramaphosa said even in moments of great global crisis Qatar and South Africa have always worked well. 

“South Africa greatly admires the approach taken by Qatar, particularly in this ongoing horror story in Palestine and the mediation efforts Qatar is involved in. As a country well versed in mediation efforts in a number of places around the world, we find that it is very easy to work with the government of Qatar and His Royal Highness.” 

Ramaphosa said the events in Palestine and the growing deaths of civilians, particularly children, “grieves us all”. 

Reiterating the government’s position, Ramaphosa said: “South Africa supports all efforts to secure an immediate and full ceasefire, with talks on a political solution to address the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for statehood.” 

In their “fruitful discussions”, Ramaphosa said Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Amir said he would send a delegation to South Africa to expand the economic relationship. 

While Qatar and South Africa’s political relationship is more than 30 years strong, Ramaphosa said much more can be achieved in areas of trade, investment and economic development.  

He told the gathering South Africa is Africa’s “most industrialised economy” with well-established companies.   

“We have free trade agreements in place with the European Union and the United Kingdom. We are about to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area, uniting 54 economies into a large tariff-free market intended to cover 1.3-billion consumers.”  

In addition, South Africa has access to the US market on preferential terms through the African Growth and Opportunities Act and preferential access to certain Latin American markets.

“The African continent has vast resources of critical minerals that will be used as the world embraces cleaner, greener growth. The demand for these minerals provides an opportunity to industrialise the South African and wider African economies. There are opportunities now for partnerships in renewable energy storage technologies, such as battery-manufacturing for energy grid systems and electric vehicles.”  

With sunlight and wind, there is also growth potential in green hydrogen production.  

He said: “South Africa plans to link its massive platinum reserves to the green hydrogen market, which could be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050.”  

Ramaphosa said South Africa is looking to companies from Qatar to partner with South Africa as the government implements the just energy transition. 

He told the delegation the government was working hard to turn around the situation at Eskom.  

“The energy market is being restructured. The public electricity utility, Eskom, which faced severe challenges, has improved maintenance of its generation fleet and has received debt relief from the state to strengthen its financial position.”

He added that private energy generation, specifically in renewables, constitutes a growing share of total energy generated.  

“Since the implementation of regulatory changes, the pipeline of private sector generation projects has increased to over 100 projects representing more than 10,000MW of potential new capacity.”

The country is also dealing with challenges facing the freight and logistics sector.  

“Following a period of under-investment in ports and rail infrastructure, we are now working closely with the private sector to use the wider pool of skills available to improve the logistics system.”  

He said South Africa also has a stable legal system, strong protections of property rights, a deep capital market, with Africa’s largest stock exchange, and a growing pool of skilled employees.  

“South Africa attracts investors from across the world, with more than 600 American firms and substantial investment from China, the UK and the European Union. Some of the world’s largest corporations are active in the South African market as investors.” 

He said Qatar is under-represented in the South African market, compared with other countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and expansion into the market will expose Qatari firms to a fast-growing region of the world.  

“South Africa is ready to build partnerships for faster, sustainable and inclusive growth. We look forward to partnering in sectors such as agro-processing, automotive, aquaculture, manufacturing, hydrocarbons, infrastructure, hospitality and tourism.