My business trip to South Africa comes at a challenging time for the entire world.
Ukraine must strengthen ties with South Africa, the region’s largest economic, financial, and transportation hub. We look forward to developing a mutually respectful and trustworthy relationship following discussions between Zelensky and President Cyril Ramaphosa. We, the Ukrainians, place a high value on South Africa’s experience in overcoming apartheid. The translation of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom into Ukrainian has become a popular book among Ukrainian youth.
Cooperation in trade, economics, and investment
Ukraine is eager to strengthen relations with South Africa, placing a premium on the expansion of trade, economic, and investment cooperation with your country as one of our most important trading partners in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2021, the total value of our bilateral trade was US$ 117.3 million. Last year’s trade mission to South Africa, led by Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Trade, and Agriculture – Trade Representative of Ukraine, Taras Kachka, sent a strong signal for our countries’ deepening and expanding economic cooperation.
Ukraine is implementing a digitalization reform aimed at bringing public services online. The Ukrainian IT sector employs nearly 300,000 people and is growing at a rate of 25-30% per year. It already ranks first among service exporters (over $5 billion per year) and accounts for more than 4% of Ukraine’s GDP. Despite the war, Ukraine’s IT sector is expanding steadily, so customers can be confident in Ukrainian companies’ dependability. Ukraine was the first country in the world to recognise digital passports as the legal equivalent to traditional ID documents. Ukraine is more than capable of assisting our South African partners in the early stages of developing digital solutions in the areas of internet banking implementation, electronic registers handling, and public service digitalization.
We also see numerous opportunities for establishing and expanding mutually beneficial educational collaboration. Ukrainian universities could provide high-quality educational services to South African youth in healthcare, agriculture, engineering, information technology, and aviation. Ukrainian authorities facilitated the evacuation of South African students to neighbouring countries shortly after the outbreak of war. They will be able to continue their studies in Ukraine once the war is over. Fortunately, many Ukrainian universities now provide the option of distance learning.