Ramaphosa calls on African leaders to strengthen ties with Caribbean nations
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on leaders in the continent and Caribbean nations to use their shared African heritage to strengthen relations.
Ramaphosa was speaking at a virtual inaugural Africa-Caribbean Community (Caricom) summit on Tuesday afternoon, according to The Sowetan, an English-language South African daily newspaper.
“Our common heritage should encourage us to deepen our engagement, strengthen trade and investment, collaborate in research and development, and share expertise and knowledge among our countries. Just as we share a common history, we also have common challenges,” said Ramaphosa.
The summit also focused on the promotion of trade, investment and economic integration, transport integration and mitigation of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa said the historic first Africa Caricom initiative places participating states “on the threshold of a new epoch of integration, unity and cooperation”.
The summit was also in a sense fulfilling an important aspiration of the pioneers of pan-Africanism, and, within a contemporary context, of the African Unions’s (AU) Agenda 2063, the president added.
Ramaphosa, who is also the AU champion on Covid-19, said no country was spared from the devastating human, social, political and economic effects of the pandemic.
“We are all working to overcome the effects of colonialism and underdevelopment by building inclusive economies and creating more opportunities for our people. We are all vulnerable to the effects of climate change through rising sea levels, adverse weather effects and social and economic disruption.”
Ramaphosa said the pandemic has demonstrated the value and necessity of confronting challenges together.
“We share a determination that when it comes to vaccines and other critical health interventions, no region, no country and no person should be left behind. It is therefore a matter of great significance that Caribbean countries have joined the efforts galvanised by the AU on acquiring vaccines,” said Ramaphosa.
Just as African countries had worked together to access vaccine, Ramaphosa said, “we need to share experiences, expertise and technology to better respond to Covid-19 and future pandemics.
Ramaphosa called on heads of state to explore the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area to advance aspirations towards economic integration and shared prosperity.
He agreed with the prime minister of Antigua & Barbuda and chairperson of Caricom Gaston Browne’s proposal to nominate September 7 as Africa Caricom Day and for the summit to take place on the day annually.
“It is important that the bonds of history continue into the future. Doing it through summits such as this one we will be able to deepen and increase our partnerships,” he said.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, who was chairing the summit, commended Ramaphosa for his role as the AU champion on Covid-19.