President Cyril Ramaphosa has slammed travel bans imposed on South Africa as countries around the world continue to react with apprehension to the emergence and reporting of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
He was speaking during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), hosted by the Republic of Senegal on Monday.
President Ramaphosa said the imposition of travel restrictions on developing countries like South Africa further hinders those countries' ability to recover from the economic devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing.
He highlighted that China had demonstrated solidarity with the African continent in this regard.
"We need to resist unjustified and unscientific travel restrictions that only serve to further disadvantage developing economies. We wish to thank the People's Republic of China for its unwavering support to Africa since the onset of the pandemic. We are confident we can continue to count on China's support in the continental vaccine acquisition drive and in support for our proposal to the WTO," he said.
The President also reiterated his call for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to finalise deliberations on the waiver on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
"Our immediate and most pressing priority is to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Developing economies, including those in Africa, need to be able to access and manufacture their own vaccines. We need to finalise deliberations at the WTO on the temporary TRIPS waiver to make COVID-19 vaccines and treatments available to all," he said.
President Ramaphosa emphasised that humanity is reaching a point where it must show solidarity and warned that failure to do so threatens to increase the chasm between richer and poorer countries.
"At this moment in humankind's history, we must demonstrate our determination to leave no country behind. COVID-19 has forced us to confront global inequality. We have been galvanised into action against a world order where a country's wealth is the difference between sickness and health, between life and death.
"Unless every country is able to meet its national aspirations, the gulf between developed and developing economies will only widen," the President said.
On relations between Africa and China, President Ramaphosa said the formation of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has generated considerable gains for both the continent and the Asian country.
"We have expanded trade and investment and cooperated in a number of fields on an equal basis with great respect for one another from Higher education and training to agriculture, from medical care to transportation.
"FOCAC has been a valuable platform for dialogue in our collective quest to bring about a more equitable international order and for amplifying Africa's voice on the world stage," he said.
The President said, however, that the trade deficit between Africa and China needs to be reduced - with more African products reaching Chinese shores and increased investments into Africa.
"Over the next three years we will be implementing the Dakar Action Plan. This will require that we recalibrate the Sino-Africa relationship with a greater emphasis on promoting sustainable development for the benefit of all.
"We call on China to increase infrastructure investment in Africa, especially in key sectors such as port, rail, energy and water, and to continue to support human capital development and technology transfer," President Ramaphosa said.
He praised FOCAC as a "beacon of hope".
"For us to fully reap its benefits, FOCAC must be strengthened and enhanced. The war on poverty, inequality and underdevelopment must define the next phase of the FOCAC partnership. This partnership must be used as an instrument for economic cooperation and development, in pursuit of the common prosperity we all seek".