Saudi Arabia has pledged support for South Africa to be accorded the observer status in the Organization for Islamic Co-operation (OIC). This follows a meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud on Thursday.

The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents.

It endeavours to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.

South Africa’s ambassador Anil Sooklal says Pretoria’s link to IOC presents great opportunities for the country.

“The voice of Saudi Arabia and especially the support that was echoed today by his Majesty for South Africa’s observer status will hold tremendous weight and influence others to do likewise. Being an observer status will give South Africa a number of privileges in terms of accessing developmental co-operation support by being a member of OIC, especially its financial institutions which support infrastructure development as well.”

Saudi Arabia has committed 10 billion US dollars towards President Ramaphosa’s investment drive for South Africa. Ramaphosa wants to raise 100 billion dollars in the next five years.

The commitment was made during President Ramaphosa’s state visit to the oil rich Kingdom.

President Ramaphosa is seeking to assess and strengthen bilateral ties with the oil rich Kingdom.

South Africa imports 47% of its oil from Saudi Arabia.

The two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding on defence as well as co-operation in the energy sector amongst others.

Energy minister Jeff Radebe says, “The minister of energy is deeply committed in co-operating with us on the energy side. As a result of that already we have signed a big deal on the renewable side of R12 billion with Red Stone and Aqua which is a Saudi Arabia energy company in partnership with the central energy fund for renewable in terms of solar and wind. But also other areas of defence. As you’ve have heard, there is going to be a lot of defence co-operation and partnership and trade and investment. So the sky is the limit.”

Saudi Arabia which is heavily reliant on oil is also seeking diversify and is looking at new markets. For them, it’s an opportunity to engage the African continent.

South Africa is a stable democracy with strong its institutions.

It’s being viewed as a gateway to the African continent. President Ramaphosa will conclude his third leg of his three nation tour by visiting the United Arab Emirates.