Opening of South Africa’s borders and moving toward a single currency

South Africa’s borders need to be open for people, particularly Africans, to move more freely and to promote business, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

The President also repeated the need for a single currency in Africa. By companion the European Union had benefited from similar Developments.

“The easy movement of people across borders and countries should never be seen in a negative sense by us as South Africans”, Ramaphosa said on Wednesday the 21st of March, after a summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area, held in Kigali, Rwanda.

“There is a deep yearning in Rwanda and the region for this visa matter to be resolved, and we need to open up the borders of our country and allow people to move”, he said. Ramaphosa said that he had discussed this matter with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Tuesday.

On Wednesday the 21st of March, Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration, signalling South Africa’s commitment to move toward a free trade area in Africa. Due to outstanding internal legal issues and the Constitutional processes, the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement and the Protocol on the Free Movement of People has not been signed yet.

The free trade accord would mean that other countries, like Rwanda, could come in and do business in South Africa, and vice versa, Ramaphosa said. “Because when they come, they come with money. They bring dollars to come and invest in South Africa,” he said.

“So movement of people does not only mean people are coming to South Africa to take our people’s jobs. It also needs to be seen in another dimension that we are sending companies here (to Rwanda) to do business, to trade and to learn new skills. And as it is now, Rwanda has a lot to teach us. They have developed so quickly and got out of the total disaster they had 20 years ago and they are a completely transformed country,” Ramaphosa said, with reference to Rwanda’s genocide.

He said the movement of people should be looked at “in a positive sense that people, as they move, got something to contribute. And similarly when we move as South Africans, we move to other countries, we know that we have something to contribute, so let’s treat them like we want to be treated.”

He said business people on the sidelines of a forum on Tuesday had called for a single currency. He agreed this would help trade.

“Africa is developing in a wonderful way, further on this economic journey, and we will be beginning to interface with the notion and the idea of a single currency. Some even suggested a digital currency, and it is possible that a digital currency will even precede a real single because it is easier done than having a proper full currency,” he said.

In this elaborate ceremony on Wednesday, 44 countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, 43 signed the Kigali Protocol committing to working towards such a free trade area, while 27 signed the Protocol on the Free Movement of People.

Nigeria and South Africa, two of Africa’s biggest economies, did not sign the free trade agreement as they needed to complete internal processes and consultations.

by Nadene van der Mescht

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