Wednesday, August 19, 2009

South Africa Strengthens Ties With Angola

SA strengthens ties with Angola

Aug 19 2009 15:29

Agreements to grease the economic wheels driving a deeper
partnership between South Africa and Angola will be concluded by Wednesday afternoon, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in Luanda.

Nkoana-Mashabane said "visa requirements [for travelling between the two countries] was one of the key issues under discussion" and that agreements to be inked on Thursday included an already concluded bilateral air-service agreement.

These steps appear a recognition of Angola's growing importance as a local oil-producing nation and the potential it represents for South African companies, especially in the mining and construction sectors. Angola is Africa's biggest oil producer, exporting about $29,9-billion worth in 2006, but is in urgent need of infrastructure development after enduring almost 30 years of destructive civil war.

Nkoane-Mashabane is part of the South African delegation -- which includes 11 Cabinet ministers and more than 180 business delegates -- accompanying President Jacob Zuma on his first state visit since his inauguration.

Nkoana-Mashabane stressed the importance of Angola's natural resources and the potential safeguarding of South Africa's "oil security" provided by Angola's vast reserves.

She said "several memorandums of understanding" between departments such as sport and trade and industry were to be signed, while South African businesses were expected to contribute to Angola's housing and telecommunications infrastructure development.

"It is very difficult to separate the political relations from economic relations and we believe there is a new energy and vigour [between the two countries]," said Nkoana-Mashaabane, alluding to the previously frosty relationship that existed between the two countries while South African president Thabo Mbeki was at the helm.

The mutual wooing by both countries will extend to an annual bi-national commission, which will be led by the respective presidents. A regional diplomatic consultation agreement signed between Nkoana-Mashabane and her Angolan counterpart Ansuncao Afonso dos Anjos will ensure ongoing discussions between the two countries.

Nkoana-Mashabane stressed the importance of the visit with regard to the "ongoing political, social and economic integrity of the SADC [Southern African Development Community]" and said the deepening relationship was vital to ensuring peace and democratic stability in the region.

She added that both countries were committed to ensuring that a "solution from inside Zimbabwe" was achieved in the troubled country.

She said the government's 15-year review compelled South Africa's foreign policy to "go back and ensure a strengthening relationship with our neighbours and strengthen democracy".

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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19/08/2009 18:26 LUANDA, Aug 19 (AFP)

SAfrican president arrives in Angola

South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday arrived in Angola on his first state visit to the country to strengthen ties between the continent's biggest economy and one of its top oil producers.

During the visit, which ends Friday, Zuma is set to hold talks with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, while the leaders are scheduled to jointly address business leaders in Luanda.

Zuma will also address Angola's National Assembly on Thursday.

Ahead of his arrival, more than 150 South African and Angolan businesses gathered in Luanda on Wednesday to explore trade and investment opportunities.

"When you look at Angola, you don't see the lack of infrastructure, you see the multitude of opportunities. This is a country under construction," South African Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele told AFP in Luanda.

"That's why we have so many people here. The initiative is quite a novel one by President Zuma for businesses to come here for themselves to see the investment opportunities with their own eyes," he added.

South Africa is touting the trip as part of its efforts to strengthen its relationships within southern Africa, while the choice of Angola highlights the country's growing importance in the region.

Business Unity South Africa, which represents the country's key business sectors, said it planned to work closely with Angolan companies over the two day visit to create a more conducive climate for doing business.

"There is a need for a bilateral economic cooperation agreement including a mutual commitment to good and transparent governance in business," said the organisation's president Brian Molefe in a statement.

"Such a move would be fully supported by SA (South African) business."


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