Ramaphosa’s first state visit to Cote d’Ivoire seen as a win-win for both countries

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President Cyril Ramaphosa with  President Alassane Ouattara of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.
President Cyril Ramaphosa with President Alassane Ouattara of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa was hailed for his efforts to promote business between South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire.
  • He was on a state visit to Abidjan on Thursday.
  • President Alassane Ouatarra welcomed the South African business delegation that accompanied Ramaphosa on the trip.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's first state visit to Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire was hailed a win-win for both countries.

Ramaphosa was complimentary of President Alassane Outtara for standing in solidarity against the travel bans amid South Africa's discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, while Outtara was full of praise for the business delegation Ramaphosa brought to his country.

The pair held extensive talks on Thursday after which nine memorandums of agreement were signed by ministers between the two countries.

Ramaphosa was given first-class treatment in Abidjan as this was the first state visit by a South African president since the establishment of diplomatic relations in the 1990s.

His picture dotted the capital and a ceremony was held in his honour. 

While the president took the opportunity to lobby support against the travel bans imposed on South Africa, trade between the two countries took centre stage during talks.

"The portfolio of South African investment in Côte d'Ivoire is growing rapidly. [There are] a number of South African companies, including major banks and telecommunication companies, that are operating in Côte d'Ivoire.

"Several of our state-owned enterprises are negotiating investment promotion activities in sectors such as oil and gas, mining and geoscience," Ramaphosa said at the conclusion of the talks.

READ | Ramaphosa concludes state visit to Nigeria, optimistic about working relations

Outtara said South Africa’s GDP was five times that of Côte d’Ivoire and was a marketplace for South African industries.

He added he had appealed to the Ivorian private sector to take up opportunities in South Africa.

Ramaphosa is due to address business delegations between the two countries on Friday.

Outtara thanked him for his efforts to bolster trade between the two countries.

He also noted the expansion of MTN in Côte d'Ivoire as well as Standard and Chartered, among other South African companies, doing business in the country.

The warm reception for Ramaphosa was evident on the streets of Abidjan, where South African flags flew on all major roads.

Following the formal talks, he was presented with honorary citizenship of the Autonomous District of Abidjan.

At a ceremony on Thursday afternoon, Ouattara bestowed Ramaphosa with Côte d'Ivoire's distinguished Order of the Dignity of the Grand Cross.

When asked what took so long for a state visit, Ouattara downplayed it, saying the two countries always enjoyed good relations, starting with a visit by Nelson Mandela in the early 1990s.

The intervention of former president Thabo Mbeki in Côte d'Ivoire's political crises over a decade ago was also referenced.

The West African country has recorded economic and political stability a decade after political violence threatened its stability.

On Friday, Ramaphosa will tour the Autonomous Port of Abidjan before addressing the Côte d'Ivoire-South Africa Business Forum.

Later, the two heads of state and MTN group chief executive Ralph Mupita will symbolically lay the foundation stone for MTN's new headquarters in Côte d'Ivoire.

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