UK and SA Join Forces

Posted on: November 25th, 2022 by admin
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Earlier this week, the United Kingdom hosted an official state visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the first such visit during the reign of King Charles III. In addition to attending a banquet at Buckingham Palace (seen right, © Instagram), the SA leader addressed both houses of parliament at Westminster and was also hosted by Rishi Sunak for a business luncheon at 10 Downing Street. The prime minister said, “South Africa is already the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together.”

Addressing a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Ramaphosa said South Africa seeks a new partnership for investment in green industry, science, innovation, and technology. He commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare Africa’s vulnerability with respect to the supply of medicines, medical equipment, and vaccines. We used all the ingenuity of South African manufacturers to create production capacity for medical-grade face masks, hand sanitisers, COVID-19 test kits and ventilators.”

Ramaphosa continued, “Our excellent genome sequencing capacity was used to detect new variants of COVID-19. Given the strong research and innovation record of British companies, this new partnership can improve collaboration and unlock joint funding and investment in developing Africa’s medical supply hub.” The UK’s Department for International Trade and SA’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition facilitated a trade exhibition and business roundtable discussion at Lancaster House. Among the participants was Simone Rudolph-Shortt, chairperson of Medical Device Manufacturers of South Africa (MDMSA), seen above left with President Ramaphosa.

MDMSA focuses on the economic growth of the medical device industry, concentrating on regulatory and quality compliance, international business development and support for innovation. Rudolph-Shortt had brought colourful brochures that highlighted the diversity of medical devices manufactured in South Africa and illustrated a range of innovative products, from R&D through to commercialisation. In addition, she displayed a few sample products on her stand (seen below right).

These samples included: the OptiShunt for treating glaucoma, manufactured by Liqid Medical; intra-venous lines made by VIVAline; surgical procedure packs manufactured by PrionTex; and absorbable sutures made by Akacia Medical. As Rudolph-Shortt emphasized, the MDMSA participation was all about promoting production capability and building capacity. President Ramaphosa said there had been a significant increase in exports of SA-manufactured products to meet the needs of British businesses and consumers, and concluded: “In the new partnership, we are keen to increase the volume and diversify the composition of trade so that we sell more manufactured products to UK markets.”

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