International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane meets her Counterpart in Algeria, Foreign Affairs Minister Mourad Medelci, on 24 May 2010

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane expressed South Africa’s unflinching commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria tonight at a dinner hosted by her Algerian counterpart, His Excellency Mr Mourad Medelci. She emphasized that Algeria’s relationship with the African National Congress-led government stretched back to the early 1960’s when the country provided material support to the liberation movement’s leaders in their struggle against the apartheid regime. It is opportune for the two countries to transform their political ties into an economic partnership that will see increased trade taking place between the two countries. This envisaged partnership will be captured in a number of bilateral agreements to be signed by the two countries in the next two days.

Some of these partnerships, the ministers announced, include the following:

  • Nuclear Cooperation Agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy
  • Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (Pty) Ltd and Algeria’s Sonatrach Petroleum Corporation. Mr EG September, Petro SA’s Vice President will sign on behalf of his company.
  • Programme of Action in the area of Sport and Recreation.

Both ministers were accompanied by senior government officials – Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’s delegation included South Africa’s Charge d’ Affaires to Algeria, Mr K Somgqeza, and DIRCO’s Deputy Director-General: Africa Bilateral, Mr Mxolisi Nkosi.

The meeting was a culmination of a number of engagements undertaken by the two leaders since the arrival of South Africa’s minister at the Algiers Houari Boumediene International Airport mid-morning today.

After being welcomed by her counterpart, both leaders immediately addressed journalists on the significance of a strong economic partnership between the two countries in particular and African countries in general. “It is a strong indictment against us that trade between, and across, African countries is only ten percent,” Minister Nkoana-Mashabane asserted. “We have to redress this if we cherish a dream of growth and development taking place on this continent. It is behind this backdrop that the African Union (AU), as part of its primary African agenda, has instructed that we need to strengthen regional economic communities (RECs) across the continent so that we could increase intra-trade across the continent.”

The minister further emphasised that more business contact across the continent has to be enhanced by establishing a deliberate programme for the development of infrastructure. She wryly decried a lack of direct flights between South Africa and Algeria. “I don’t see any reason why I need to fly to another country for me to get a connecting flight to Algeria. There has to be a direct contact between Africa’s most southern part, South Africa, and the continent’s most northern tip, Algeria. Just imagine the possibilities of intra-trade within the continent if we developed the necessary infrastructure, including roads and transport.”  

In the early evening, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and her counterpart then proceeded to the South African Chancery for the unveiling of a plaque. The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps in Algeria.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane arrived a day ahead of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma – who is expected to lead a ministerial and business delegation to Algeria. Minister Nkoana-Mashabane advanced on this trip to ensure, with her Algerian counterpart Foreign Affairs Minister Medelci, that all preparations for the next day’s Official Visit were splendid – and befitting the stature of the two presidents. 

For more information, please contact Chief Director for Public Diplomacy, Mr Saul Kgomotso Molobi at +27 82 940 1647; +27 12 351 0083 or e-mail him at molobisk@dirco.gov.za

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
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24 May 2010

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