Home South Africa The president called on world leaders to close the poverty gap

The president called on world leaders to close the poverty gap

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Unless world leaders act urgently and purposefully to close the gap between rich and poor, hardship and suffering will only deepen, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The president made the remarks while addressing the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom during South Africa’s state visit to the country on Tuesday.

President Ramaphosa is on a two-day royal state visit to the country at the invitation of His Majesty King Charles III.

Without that urgency, the president said, “instability, conflict and terror will increase.”

He said: “If we hope to end poverty that is passed down from one generation to the next, we need to address gaps in access to education, healthcare, safe water, sustainable energy and economic opportunity.

“Nowhere is the need to tackle inequality more important than in our response to climate change. Those countries that bear the least responsibility for global warming are the most vulnerable to its effects. They do not have the resources needed to adapt to drought, floods and sea level rise. And as they seek to grow, industrialize and diversify their economies, their energy needs will increase and the space they have to reduce emissions will shrink.”

This, he said, places a responsibility on industrialized countries to contribute significant resources to low- and middle-income countries to finance their climate action.

“This is not charity,” he said. “This is reparation for the damage done—and the damage yet to be done—to people in developing countries as a result of the industrialization of rich countries. And because global emissions reductions benefit all countries and all people, it is also a necessary investment in humanity’s future.”

The President said that South Africa highly appreciates the UK’s commitment to the implementation of a just energy transition in the country.

He said it showed a clear recognition by the UK Government of the importance of supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy in a way that does not harm affected workers, communities or industries.

“We have called on the United Kingdom and other partners to ensure that a significant part of the funding takes the form of grants and highly concessional loans.

“We are pleased that the final outcome of COP27 promises concerted action on climate change. It was President Nelson Mandela who espoused the vision of a global community of nations seeking to improve the lot of people by all available means.’

Given the history of the two countries, the shared values, the strength of their relationship, he said he strongly believes that South Africa and the United Kingdom must work together to realize such a global community.

“Three decades ago, the British people joined hands with the people of South Africa – and millions of others around the world – to free Mandela and end apartheid.

“Now let us renew the moral purpose of the global anti-apartheid struggle to confront the discrimination, inequality and injustice that divide humanity and stifle progress for all,” he said.

Strengthening trade, commerce, investment ties

He noted that the state visit is an opportunity to boost trade, commerce and investment ties between the two countries.

The United Kingdom is the largest foreign investor in South Africa and the country’s fifth largest export destination. Over the past two decades, the United Kingdom has been South Africa’s largest source of tourists from outside Africa.

“British companies should use this advantage more effectively, look for investment and trade opportunities in our country. Cooperation in the scientific and innovative spheres between the two countries is significant and has rich potential for further expansion,” he said.

He said that the South African government is convinced that there are great opportunities to expand these areas of cooperation.

“We are implementing far-reaching economic reforms to make our economy more competitive and more efficient, lower the cost of doing business and encourage new entrants into a range of industries.

“As we undertake the most significant restructuring of our energy market in nearly a century to address severe power shortages, there are great opportunities for investment, innovation and partnership,” he said.

By choosing these and other avenues of collaboration, President Ramaphosa said he believed “we will redefine the relationship between South Africa and the UK in a new and exciting way”.

“By fully exploring our common interests and opportunities, I am confident that we will add another chapter to our long and rich history,” he said.

He said that members of the British Parliament were important and active participants in the development of relations between the two countries.

“We thank you for your friendship, solidarity and partnership. Be assured of the sincere and lasting friendship of South Africa and its people,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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