FM&PR: What is your National Day and of what significance is it to your country?
JM: South Africa celebrates its National Day on 27 April because that is the day that South Africans of all races from the age of 18 upwards went to the ballot to cast their votes for a political party of their choice ushering in our democracy. The African National Congress won the elections and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first democratic and black President in May 1994.
You must remember that prior to the elections of 27 April 1994, South Africa was still under the apartheid system. The political freedom fighters and the liberation organisations to which they belonged to were only freed from prison and unbanned in 1990 respectively. And from 1990-1993 that is when we had the negotiation process between the freedom fighters and the white minority government which led to the ushering in of a democratic South Africa.
So 27 April is our Freedom Day and it is important because it represents the day South Africa became a democratic country with us holding our first democratic elections post-apartheid.
FM&PR: Generally, how is the day marked at home and by your Embassy in Ghana?
JM: Freedom Day is a public holiday in South Africa. Just like 6 March is also a public holiday in Ghana. The day is marked by the President delivering a speech to the nation reflecting on our past and looking ahead to the future.
Here in Ghana, the High Commission hosts the National Day celebration. We invite members from the diplomatic corps, government officials, South Africans living in Ghana, our companies, our Ghanaian friends and the media. The evening starts with a speech delivered by myself followed by a speech from a Minister in Ghana. We cut a cake, eat and network.
Last year the High Commission did not host the National Day celebration including all the other Embassies in Ghana. They also did not celebrate their national days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We were respecting the restrictions imposed by the Government of Ghana and putting people’s health first. This year, we will also not host the National Day because the pandemic is still with us and we wish to remain responsible.
FM&PR: What would you say is the state of bilateral relations between your country and Ghana, both politically and economically? (Provide statistics if available)
JM: Bilateral relations between Ghana and South Africa are very warm and cordial. Our relations have continued to strengthen over the years. As you may be aware, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo paid a State Visit to South Africa in July 2018 and at that State Visit the two Presidents decided to elevate our relations to a Bi-National Commission. Prior to that, the framework governing Ghana and South Africa’s relations was the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC) which was co-chaired by our two Ministers of International Relations and Foreign Affairs. So now the elevation to the BNC means that our relations will now be presided over by our two Presidents and the BNC was signed when President Ramaphosa came for a Working Visit to Ghana in December 2019. So that is the state of our political relations at a bilateral level and as stated there has been progression and growth.
Economically, our relations have also grown to unprecedented levels. On the investment front, South African companies have invested immensely in the Ghanaian economy in terms of Foreign Direct Investors (FDIs). There are close to 200 South African Companies registered in Ghana employing over 19,087 Ghanaians and 510 expatriates. Over the past ten years, South African companies have undertaken over 170 projects in Ghana valued at close to 1,5 billion USD in capital investment. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, South African investors did not shy away but continued to invest in Ghana. In the last quarter of 2020, South Africa recorded 3 projects contributing over 2.4 million USD to Ghana’s FDI.
The latest foreign direct investments from SA to Ghana are:
|SOUTH AFRICAN INVESTMENTS IN GHANA (JAN – DEC 2020)|
|COMPANY NAME||SECTOR||NUMBER OF PROJECTS||FDI US$|
|TIMKEN SOUTH AFRICA HOLDINGS (PTY) LTD||LIAISON||1||500 000,00|
|ONE RAND GROUP LTD||MANUFACTURING||1||240 000 000,00|
|KSB PUMPS (S.A) (PROPRIETARY) LIMITED||SERVICES||1||1 500 000,00|
|TOTAL||3||2 42 000 000,00|
The footprint of South African companies in Ghana is impressive and include the likes of Stanbic Bank, AngloGold Ashanti, MTN, Goldfields, Multichoice, Game, Old Mutual, First National Bank, Barclays/ ABSA, Shoprite, Atterbury, Broll, 3M to name a few.
Companies such as MTN have been a shining example of good corporate citizenry because of MTN is the largest corporate tax payer to the Ghana Revenue Authority. The rest of the South African companies continue to provide employment and local procurement opportunities as well as contribute to the upliftment of communities through their corporate social responsibility programmes.
The trade relationship between the two countries is also growing. There was a slight decrease in total trade in 2020 as compared to 2019 but that was expected due to the covid-19 pandemic and we expect trade to rebound quite well this year especially with the implantation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
South African exports to Ghana have evolved overtime, from being dominated by agricultural produce, packaging material and primary goods. Products such as vehicles, machinery, mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, base metals, aircraft, vessels & associated products have contributed to the increased exports to Ghana. The shift from exporting primary goods to manufactured products can be attributed to, among other factors, an increasing presence of South African multinational companies in Ghana and that South Africa is Ghana’s second largest trading partner on the Continent after Nigeria.
Bilateral trade with Ghana (In Rands) from 2015 – 2020
Total trade between RSA and Ghana over a 5 year period 2015-2020 (R’000)
|SA Exports to Ghana||4 379 293 054||4 920 884 680||4 698 882 323||4 482 909 809||4 991 059 754||5 689 586 594|
|SA Imports from Ghana||184 955 006||192 872 853||835 264 184||8 784 141 856||9 219 922 529||8 408 281 299|
|Total Trade||4 564 248 060||5 113 757 533||5 534 146 507||13 267 051 665||14 210 982 283||
14 097 867 893
Source: the dtic
FM&PR: Are there any projects or programs that you are working on in that regard? What are these programs and what do they aim to achieve?
JM: For South Africa, Ghana presents investment opportunities in agriculture and agro-processing, regional industrialisation with the 1 District 1 Factory initiative, infrastructure development in the transport sector (rail and roads), mining (mineral exploration and beneficiation), oil and gas as well as the tourism and hospitality industry.
The South African High Commission will continue to promote both trade and investment between the two countries. This will be undertaken through trade and investment missions (done virtually or physically), trade exhibitions and collaborating with agencies like Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and Ghana Export Promotion Agency to carry out trade and investment projects.
We are also supporting the Africa Continental Free Trade Area in order to achieve increased intra-Africa trade and investment.
South Africa and Ghana have just finalised the MoU on cooperation in the field of agriculture. All that is outstanding is for our Ministers of Agriculture to sign it. Same goes for the visa waiver agreement for ordinary passport holders. The MoU on agriculture will provide us with the opportunity to increase our agricultural cooperation through increased trade, provide market access for our agricultural produce and bring investments into the sector. The visa waiver agreement will mean that visitors from both our countries can visit each other’s countries visa free for up to 90 days in a year. This will be mutually beneficial for our tourism industries and will make it easier for business people to also move between the two countries to conduct their business. So these are two very important agreements that we are working towards finalising and implementing right now. Both agreements will yield economic dividends for our two countries.
FM&PR: What do you think is the appetite or interest of your home country investors for investing and seeking business opportunities in Ghana? How is your outfit working to promote this?
JM: As mentioned earlier, we have close to 200 South African companies doing business in Ghana, from big multinationals to more medium sized ones. And the appetite for Ghana remains and even our development finance institutions such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa and our corporate banks such as Standard Bank, Rand Merchant Bank are funding and have funded big projects in energy and infrastructure development in Ghana.
The High Commission has what we call inward and outward trade missions which are facilitate by our Ministry of Trade and Industry back home. These trade missions involve bringing potential investors to Ghana and linking them up with potential business partners. We work closely with the GIPC on these missions. We also do the reverse where we invite Ghanaian investors to go on outward trade missions to South Africa to seek out business opportunities. In fact, South Africa wishes to see more Ghanaian investors going to South Africa to do business.
FM&PR: What is your own assessment of how Ghana is developing and how is your country supporting this process?
JM: South Africa holds Ghana in very high esteem. We share common values such as our commitment to democracy, good governance and the rule of law. We admire Ghana for its democratic credentials and peaceful transfers of power since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1992. Ghana has proven to be a stable and reliable country on the African continent. We recognise Ghana’s gradual and impressive development over the years. The country has now become the citadel and hub of Africa’s economic integration with the hosting of the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra. Ghana has already started attracting international investors and companies to set up shop in the country. This is a positive outcome for Ghana’s development and our companies will continue doing business in Ghana and creating jobs and investing in socio-economic upliftment projects. Our government is committed to further strengthening our relations. We support Africa’s economic integration agenda and are working closely with the government of Ghana and the Secretariat in ensuring the success of the continental free trade area.
FM&PR: What is the future of bilateral relations with Ghana?
JM: Bilateral relations between South Africa and Ghana will continue to grow from strength to strength, especially now that the Bi-National Commission has entered into force. We foresee the inaugural session of the BNC being held later on this year. We have some important bilateral agreements which are in their final stages and once implemented, they will unlock opportunities which will be mutually beneficial for our two countries. On the Continent, we will continue working together at the AU level and ensuring that the AfCFTA is implemented successfully.
Brief Profile of Grace Jeanet Mason
H.E. High Commissioner Grace Mason is a career diplomat and started her career as a Protocol Officer in the Office of the Premier of Limpopo before joining the Foreign Ministry as Director: State Protocol.
She was promoted to Deputy Chief of Protocol in 2017 and also seconded to the Presidency from 2015-207 as Head of State Protocol and Ceremonial. Madame Grace Mason is a devoted mother of three girls and also considers her many nieces and nephews as her children.