Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to Host Irish Counterpart Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney

Tshwane - South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will host her Irish counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney for bilateral political and economic discussions in Cape Town on Saturday, 18 March 2006. Deputy Prime Minister Harney will pay an official visit to South Africa from Thursday - Tuesday, 16-21 March 2006.

Discussions between Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka and her counterpart Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney come within the context of South Africa's commitment to strengthen relations with all countries of the North in the interests of consolidating the developmental agenda of the South in general and Africa in particular. Indeed, Ireland is a strong ally on African and other international issues and has a significant development cooperation programme in Africa, including South Africa.

In this regard, issues on the agenda of discussions between Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka and Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney are expected to include, among others:

  • Bilateral political and economic relations including South Africa's ASGISA;
  • Political and development issues in Africa;
  • South African and Irish experiences in economic development; and
  • The current situation in Northern Ireland.

While in South Africa Deputy Prime Minister Harney will also visit the Atteridgeville Leratong Hospice and the Salesian Institute Street Youth Project, participate in an Irish Business Network Dinner hosted by Enterprise Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland, visit the Cape Peninsula University, the Zanokhanyo Training Centre in Khayelitsha, and the Medicines sans Frontiers Clinic

Bilateral Economic Relations

Total South African exports to Ireland in 2005 amounted to R1,122,108,000 (R1.12 billion), an increase from R1,02 billion in 2004, while imports from Ireland in 2005 totaled R4,072,400,000 (R4.07 billion), a small increase from R4,053 billion in 2004. The increase in South African exports to Ireland from 2004 to 2005 amounts to 9,5%.

There have been a number of significant Irish investments in South Africa, the most famous perhaps being the take-over of the Argus group by Irish entrepreneur Dr Tony O'Reilly and Irish Independent Newspapers. Another large investment has been the purchase by Howard Holdings of eight historic buildings in Cape Town which they are converting into a 6 star hotel, conference centre and luxury apartments.

De Beers Industrial Diamonds has set up the largest industrial diamonds processing facility in Europe in the Shannon Free Zone, employing 540 people.

Tourism has witnessed unprecedented growth with an increase of 43% in tourism arrivals from Ireland in 2003 and 2004, placing Ireland, with a population of only 4,1 million, in the 8th position of tourism source countries for South Africa.

Development Aid to South Africa

  • During their EU Presidency in the first half of 2004 the Ireland pushed African issues up the agenda and played a critical role in the establishment of the EU's African Peace Facility.
  • Since coming to power in 1997, the current Irish government has trebled ODA to around €545 million, making Ireland the world's 8th largest contributor (0,41% of GDP). Eighty-five percent of bilateral Irish country assistance is spent in Africa.
  • Ireland contributed €200,000 to the Great Lakes Conference, €500,000 to AMIB, €500,000 to the AU mission in Sudan and €300,000 to the NEPAD Secretariat. The most recent contribution has been in September 2005, when Foreign Minister Ahern announced that Ireland would provide €500,000 to support the holding of elections in the DRC in 2006.
  • Ireland is the largest European contributor of troops to peace mission in Africa.
  • Ireland provides around E11 million per year to South Africa (with a major focus on Limpopo) and in 2004 extended its programme for another 10 years until 2014. Ireland, in consultation with National Treasury, selected five priority areas for their development cooperation programme: education; health; HIV/AIDS; water and sanitation; and good governance, democratisation and human rights.
  • The latest project in Limpopo has been a local economic development project to benefit emerging tourism entrepreneurs in the greater Tzaneen and Letaba municipalities.
  • There are also a number of Irish NGOs active in South Africa that receive funds from the Irish Government through other channels, eg the NGO Fund, the Irish Missionaries Fund and the Bursaries Fund.

Support of the African Agenda

Ireland is a strong supporter of the African Union and NEPAD, and contributed R 2.4 million to the NEPAD secretariat in 2003. Its development co-operation budget for Africa is about R4-billion, and it has a particular interest in conflict prevention.

Ireland is a traditional contributor to UN peace-keeping missions and currently has a large contingent (430 troops) in Liberia. It is also a member of the Group of Friends of the Great Lakes Peace Process.

Ireland placed African issues high up the agenda of its January-June 2004 EU Presidency, and played a critical role in speeding up the establishment of the African Peace Facility. The most recent contribution has been in September 2005, when Foreign Minister Ahern announced that Ireland would provide €500,000 to support the holding of elections in the DRC in 2006.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

15 March 2006

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