Issue 76 | 20 September 2013
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Diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela were established in 1993 and, in 1995, Venezuela opened its Embassy in Pretoria. South Africa opened its Embassy in Caracas in January 1998.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, undertook a Working Visit to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for talks with her counterpart, Minister Elias Jaua Milano.

The purpose of the visit was to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the areas of energy, mining, agriculture, education, as well as arts and culture. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding bilateral consultations was concluded between South Africa and Venezuela in July 2007 and a Framework Agreement on Cooperation was signed in 2008 during the visit of the late President Hugo Chavez. The Framework Agreement paved the way for cooperation in the areas of energy, mining, agriculture, social and cultural activities. It was mutually agreed to establish a Joint Bilateral Commission to monitor the implementation of the Cooperation Framework Agreement and to identify new areas of cooperation.

Three MOUs were also signed by PetroSA and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which granted PetroSA a block in order to explore Venezuela’s oil reserves.

South African exports to Venezuela consist mainly of ferro-vanadium and related products, followed by liqueurs. South African imports from Venezuela consist mainly of oil.

Trade relations between South Africa and Venezuela have decreased over the years with the balance of trade changing to favour South Africa.



South Africa has already pledged to work closely with Somalia to bring the country to stability. South Africa has allocated R100 million for capacity- and institution-building, socio-economic support, and provided specialist training in key government sectors.

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, accompanied by Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, attended an international conference on Somalia hosted by the European Union on 16 September 2013 in Brussels.

Billed as the "New Deal" for Somalia, the conference brought together members of the international community and senior representatives of the federal Government of Somalia to lend impetus to the positive peace momentum in Somalia. The conference focussed on the political vision, socio-economic reconstruction and the strengthening of the rule of law and security institutions in Somalia.

The conference also adopted a compact that will help the country to remain on the path of stability and peace, thereby laying the basis for its reconstruction and development.



Deputy Minister Fransman's visit will be followed by a visit to South Africa in October 2013 by Colombia's Foreign Minister Angela Holguin, which will further cement bilateral and multilateral relations between the two countries.

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Marius Fransman, concluded a successful working visit to Colombia, thus completing his four-nation visit to Latin America and the Caribbean (Peru, Ecuador, Cuba and Colombia).

The objective of the visit was to review bilateral relations with Latin America and the Caribbean to enhance political, social and economic relations and regional cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

During his visit to Colombia, Deputy Minister Fransman met with his counterpart, Monica Lanzetta. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to continue building on the sound bilateral and multilateral relations and cooperation.

There has been an increase in bilateral trade, investments and tourism between both countries. SAB Miller, AngloGold Ashanti, Anglo American (Thermo Coal) and Old Mutual have established a strong business presence in Colombia. In addition, the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System in Johannesburg was derived from the Colombian experience and is under implementation in other major South African cities.

Colombia sees South Africa as a gateway to Africa and is interested in strengthening cooperation with the region.

The Deputy Ministers recognised the major political, economic and cultural opportunities that existed between Colombia and South Africa and between the two continents – Latin America and Africa. Both sides agreed to optimise the close working relations in these areas by creating a network comprising government and private-sector stakeholders that would enhance bilateral relations at a practical level.



The DRC has a domestic market estimated at 75 million and is bordered by nine countries with a potential market of 200 million consumers and it presents the largest market for South African products and services in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Elizabeth Thabethe, is leading a delegation of 43 business people on an Investment and Trade Initiative (ITI) to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 16 to 21 September 2013.

This ITI is part of the Department of Trade and Industry's Export and Investment Promotion Strategy that focusses on targeted high growth markets with the objective of creating investment and export opportunities for South African companies and promoting South Africa as a trade and investment destination.

The delegation comprised companies in the following sectors: agriculture and agroprocessing, mining and capital equipment, automotive components, infrastructure, construction, engineering, energy, information and communications technology as well as high-end furniture.

Activities during both legs of the ITI included exhibitions, business seminars and business-to-business meetings, providing opportunities to create market penetration for South African value-added products and services in the DRC.



Under the agreement, each country will contribute R1,5 million towards organising seminars and conferences that bring together groups of early-to mid-career scientists from South Africa and the United Kingdom.

South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK) have signed an agreement to promote greater collaboration among scientists from the two countries. The agreement was signed by the Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, and British Minister of Science and Universities, David Willetts, in Cape Town on 10 September.

The scientific seminar scheme, as it is known, will run from October 2013 to March 2015. It will be administered by South Africa's National Research Foundation and Britain's Royal Society. The first seminar under the scheme will be a workshop, scheduled for February 2014, to promote scientific engagement in areas, including astronomy, renewable energy, biosciences and health research.

Minister Willetts was in the country along with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and other high-level government officials for the 10th South Africa-UK Bilateral Forum, which took place in Cape Town on 10 September. On 11 September, Minister Willetts joined Minister Hanekom on a visit to the Karoo in the Northern Cape, where South Africa is building the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array.



“South Africa's improved innovation ranking reflects very positively on the South African economy and opportunities for growth. South Africa is open for business and we invite investors to look at what we have to offer."

Brand South Africa flew the country's flag at the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Annual Meeting of the Champions, or "Summer Davos", in Dalian, China, from 18 to 20 September.

The country's official marketing agency led a high-powered delegation to the meeting to network with government, business and civil-society leaders to position South Africa as a competitive, developed economy that offers good returns on investment.

Earlier this month, the WEF released its 2013 Global Competitiveness Index, which found that South Africa had improved on four of 12 "pillars" of competitiveness, namely: institutions, goods and market efficiency, business sophistication, and innovation.
"Economists recognise that innovation is a product of entrepreneurial activity and injects dynamism into an economy," Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said on 11 September. "It is also the factor that has been shown to drive social and economic development in other developing countries."



QS has been ranking universities for the past nine years, and this year assessed more than 3 000 universities, ranking 800 of them.

South Africa is home to Africa's two top-ranked universities, including the only African university to be ranked in the top 200 in the world, according to the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. QS, a British education research company, released its university rankings for 2013/14 recently.

According to the rankings, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is Africa's top university, moving up nine places to 145 from 154 last year. The country's second-highest ranked institution, Wits University in Johannesburg, improved by a huge 50 positions to 313.

The next highest-ranked African university is the American University of Cairo at 348, up by 44 places from 392 last year.

The UCT currently has 416 National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researchers, including 33 A-rated scientists. Wits University has 16 A-rated scientists and around about 250 NRF-rated scientists.

Some of South Africa's other universities were also ranked: the University of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape at 387, the University of Pretoria in Gauteng in the 471 to 480 range, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the 501 to 550 range.

Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape was rated between 551 and 600, while the University of Johannesburg was ranked for the first time, falling in the 601 to 650 range.

The QS assessment criteria are extensive. Universities are awarded with a rating of one to five+ stars, depending on their performance within an evaluation. Over 30 criteria are used for the assessment, grouped into eight categories: research, employability, teaching, infrastructure, internationalisation, innovation, engagement, and the institution's standing in specialist subjects.

The Times Higher Education World Rankings are expected later this year. UCT was placed at 113 on these rankings last year, while Wits University was ranked in the 226 to 250 range.



According to Scatec Solar, the annual production of 135 million kWh will cover the electricity demand of 33 000 households, while reducing the country's carbon dioxide emissions by almost 115 000 tons per year.

Norway-based Scatec Solar announced on 16 September 2013 that it had completed its 75-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Kalkbult in the Northern Cape three months ahead of schedule, making it the first project under South Africa's renewable energy programme for private producers to be grid-connected and operational.

Scatec Solar was one of 28 independent power producers that signed contracts with the government late last year, in the first round of a programme that will see an initial 1 400 MW of renewable energy being added to South Africa's energy mix, while bringing an estimated R47 billion in new investment into the country.

The completed Kalkbult plant consists of more than 312 000 solar panels mounted on 156 kilometres of substructure, inverters, transformers and a sub-station. Kalkbult's electricity will be sold to state company Eskom through a 20-year purchase agreement.

The Department of Energy aims to bring 17 800 MW from renewable sources online by 2030.



South Africa's first mobile agricultural laboratory, one of the most technologically advanced in the world, will be a major boost for the country's emerging farmers, enabling them to have their water, soil and animals tested on their doorstep.

The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) spent R3 million on the development of the laboratory, which was recently launched by non-governmental organisation Mobile Agri Skills Development and Training (MASTD) at the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport outside  Mbombela.

"The benefits of the lab are numerous and include bringing conformity assessment support closer to emerging farmers, giving them access to a testing facility that will help them in their farm planning and crop production," Seda spokesperson Beverley Kgame said recently.

Project manager Kevin Gambaran said the lab, with its cutting edge-range of equipment, "is definitely the most advanced agricultural laboratory in the country, and we are very proud to launch it after years of hard work".

In addition to laboratory facilities, the 20-metre Scania truck unit hosts a training facility with high-tech electronic equipment and a comprehensive one-stop support centre for small, medium and micro enterprises within the agriculture industry.

Two high-definition television screens on the outside of the truck relay what is going on inside, and all laboratory equipment, barring the air-conditioners, are run with solar power.

RMB's report gauges investment attractiveness using three factors: market size (gross domestic product [GDP]), economic growth (GDP forecasts for the next five years), and operating environment. As a supplementary ranking, the report also considers the effect of regional affiliation on countries' economic attractiveness.

Africa continues to increase its investor allure, with South Africa still the continent's most attractive investment destination, now closely followed by Nigeria, according Rand Merchant Bank's (RMB's) latest Where to Invest in Africa Report.

Nigeria moved from third to second place in RMB's report, released on 16 September 2013.

Another notable change in RMB's latest rankings is Ghana's climb up the rankings, from 10th in 2007 to fourth in 2013, despite being economically one-fifth the size of continental giants South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt.

While continued political unrest counted against Egypt, RMB said, the country's sizeable market, large population and decent operating environment should support increased investment once tensions subsided. RMB noted that its rankings had been drawn up before the recent flare-ups in Egypt and Libya, but said the report was "meant to inform long-term investment decisions", and that more clarity should arise over the coming year.

Of the 52 countries surveyed, 42 showed improved investor attractiveness, RMB said, with the biggest improvements coming from some of the continent's most troubled countries, notably Sâo Tome and Principé, Gabon, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Congo, Mauritania and Liberia.

Backsliders over the last year included Algeria, Angola and Equitorial Guinea, while, over the last decade, 41 countries improved their attractiveness and only three – Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zimbabwe – deteriorated.

In terms of this regional methodology, South Africa is ranked third, "underscoring its importance as a gateway into Africa", Rwanda climbs to second spot, and Mauritius comes first based on its access to broader markets within the Southern African Development Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

However, RMB notes, African countries still have a way to go in order to compete with the most attractive investment destinations worldwide, with China and the United States topping the overall list and only two African countries – South Africa at 33rd and Nigeria at 38th – making the top 40.
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