SA, Germany commit to improved bilateral relations

The Federal Republic of Germany has committed to support South Africa’s efforts towards industrialisation, infrastructure development, and job creation as laid out in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa during a media briefing following bilateral talks with his German counterpart, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The two statesmen earlier held discussions that centred on bilateral cooperation and international concerns, including ways to enhance cooperation in energy and climate change, trade and investment, and responses to Covid-19 and vaccines.

Germany has been a partner in development since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the inauguration of the Bi-National Commission in 1996. It is South Africa’s second-largest trading partner and the third-largest single source of overseas arrivals.

Ramaphosa said they discussed avenues to increase trade and investment of German companies in South Africa, but also of South African companies in Germany. “This cooperation has been in a range of fields, including good governance and strengthening democracy, HIV prevention, climate actions, and energy,” he said.

Also on the table for discussion were the next steps in the Just Transition Partnership concluded between South Africa, Germany, France, the UK, the US, and the EU in 2021.

“This historic partnership will support our just transition to a low-carbon economy and climate-resilient society in a manner that leaves no one behind.”

Ramaphosa and Scholz also spoke extensively on supporting young people and integrating them into the workplace. Another important area of cooperation between the two countries is vocational training and how young people can be effectively integrated into the world of work.

“There is much we can learn from the German mode of dual education and how German companies integrate the training of young people in the working environment,” said Ramaphosa.

Scholz told the media briefing that Germany is working with South Africa in the field of cooperation for developing skills, agreeing with Ramaphosa that it is necessary to do a lot for the youth, and “if they have a chance for training and education together, it is big progress”.

Vaccine manufacturing in Africa

Ramaphosa lauded Germany for being a dependable supporter of Africa’s efforts to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, and expressed the country’s gratitude to Scholz for the assistance Germany has given to the continent.

“We also discussed the support Germany can lend to our efforts to ensure that vaccines produced in Africa are given a greater market share in developed countries and that vaccines destined for African populations should be procured locally,” said Ramaphosa.

Earlier, he told Scholz that efforts to produce vaccines in South Africa have suffered a setback because there are no buyers for vaccines that are produced in Africa.

“This is a matter of great concern for us and this is an area that should also concern you because you have been in the forefront of helping us as the continent to move up the ladder of being able to produce vaccines. We believe that vaccines destined for Africa should be produced in Africa.”

During their meeting, Scholz expressed his happiness to have helped with the manufacturing of vaccines in Africa and South Africa in particular. “We should increase the investment in your country, making it easier is one of the aspects we will discuss,” he said.

War in Ukraine

The meeting also discussed the war in Ukraine and the need for negotiations to end the conflict. Ramaphosa added that they also discussed a broad range of international issues including the pursuit of peace and security on the African continent.

“We also discussed the conflict in Ukraine and the need for the international community to encourage dialogue and negotiation towards a peaceful resolution.”

Scholz also weighed in on the war in Ukraine, saying it is necessary for peace in the world that the war stops as soon as possible. “We have to convince Russia that they will go out of the war and peace has a chance for Ukraine and the development of all of us,” said Scholz.

Scholz and his delegation were expected to visit Sasol in Sandton for the launch of a South African-German consortium that will advance technology research for the production of sustainable aviation fuels.

Ramaphosa said the launch is a historic partnership for the development of carbon emissions reduction technologies including green hydrogen.


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