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Yellen commends Ford on its Silverton operation, commits to deepening ties

US Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen has described the Ford Motor Company’s Silverton assembly plant, in Pretoria, as a strong example of how deepening economic integration between the US and South Africa, and the continent more broadly, can produce good jobs and boost economic growth for both regions.

Yellen was speaking during a January 26 visit to the Silverton plant – one of the events on the South African leg of her three-country visit to Africa.  

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US multinational Ford Motor Company. In 2021, Ford Motor Company invested R15.8-billion in the Silverton plant and supplier tooling to produce the next-generation Ford Ranger.

The plant currently employees about 4 650 people.

Yellen toured the plant, spoke to workers and got behind the wheel of one of the vehicles.

Ford Motor Company Africa president Neale Hill said that, with the company celebrating its centenary this year, it was looking forward to growing further in the next 100 years, with the aim of developing and contributing positively to the South African economy and new business in the country, as well as continuing to serve as an example of a good brand for the continent and for the export of its products.


Yellen said Africa would shape the future of the global economy and that the US was committed to working with the continent as an equal partner.

“We know that a thriving Africa is in the interest of the US. A thriving Africa means a larger market for our goods and services. It means more investment opportunities for our businesses, like this Ford plant, which can create jobs in Africa and customers for American businesses. And it means that more Americans can benefit from the dynamism and creativity of people in Africa,” she enthused.

She noted that a key pillar of the US strategy toward Africa was boosting mutually beneficial trade and investment.

“The US is South Africa’s third-largest trading partner and a major destination for South African investment. In turn, South Africa is our largest trading partner in Africa. In the coming years, we intend to build on that strong foundation to promote even deeper economic integration here, as well as with other African countries,” Yellen informed.

She said the US saw considerable potential in the continent, including in its burgeoning population and increasing connectivity.

Work to bolster trade and investment began with facilitating business between Americans and Africans, Yellen said.

She highlighted that US heavyweight businesses were doubling down on their commitments in Africa, as evidenced by Ford recently beginning production of new-generation vehicle models, following the parent company’s $1-billion investment in South Africa.

Yellen called for advancing intra-African trade, and in this vein, she expressed the US’s strong support for the African Continental Free Trade Area.

She also noted the need for continued economic development to support deepening ties, with proper infrastructure, connectivity and education required.

This includes initiatives such as President Joe Biden’s announcement last month of plans to invest over $350-million and facilitate over $450-million in financing for the continent.

Funds will go toward expanding Internet access, as well as enabling a digital ecosystem through digital skills and literacy.

“Success in Africa means success for all of us. A thriving Africa helps support a thriving America,” Yellen averred.

She expressed the US’s commitment to working with the region to deepen ties meaningfully, and for the long term.

source: engineeringnews