Statement on the incoming visit of Minister-President of Regional Government of Flanders, Belgium, 22 – 27 August 2011.

The Official visit to South Africa by Minister-President Peeters is part of a regional visit which will also cover  Mozambique.

The primary purpose of the visit is to strengthen relations between South Africa and the Flanders Regional Government and to obtain an in-principle agreement on the new Country Strategy Paper (CSP II).

The Minister-President will be accompanied by his spokesperson, his advisor, the Acting Administrator-General of the Flemish International co-operation Agency (FICA) and the Secretary-General of the Flemish Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

In South Africa, the Minister-President will pay a courtesy call on the Deputy President and have meetings with the Deputy Ministers of International Relations and Co-operation, Transport, Agriculture and Economic Development. These meetings will, among others, serve to streamline the implementation of projects at Provincial level with co-ordination at national level.

The Regional Government of Flanders is committed to assist South Africa in its developmental needs. Flanders has aligned its development cooperation to South Africa’s national priorities. Co-operation between SA and Flanders is conducted under the mechanism of a Joint Commission to assist the developmental agenda of South Africa. Since the inception of development co-operation between South Africa and Flanders in 2002, Flanders has contributed €25 Million for a five year period (2005 – 2009) to South Africa’ developmental needs. Flanders committed to spend a similar amount for the new CSP for 2012-2016. The Flemish Government supports two kinds of projects in South Africa, viz; development cooperation and partnership projects.  The projects listed are divided into five clusters, namely : Governance, Democracy, Civil Society; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food Security; Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Transport, Tourism; Education, Training, Research; and Youth, Culture, Heritage, Language, Social Development, Sports.

He will hold discussions with two of the Premiers of the three Provinces which benefit from Flemish Development Assistance, namely, Mr Mathale (Limpopo) and  Dr Mkhize (KZN). He will also  meet the Premier of the Western Cape, Ms Zille. His interaction with the Premiers of the abovementioned Provinces will mainly focus on a review of the Flemish funded projects in those Provinces. In Dinokeng, the Limpopo Agribusiness Development Alliance (LADA) project will be reviewed.  In KwaZulu Natal, the Minister President will visit the recipient projects, namely: the Durban Port Authority, the Transnet Container Terminal and he will hold discussions with implementing agencies including the ILO, the Antwerp/Flanders Port Training Centre (APEC) the Durban University of Technology and the International Education and Research Institute on Maritime and Logistics Management, run by the University of Antwerp. He will also have a meeting with the Durban Chamber of Commerce.

In 2006 South Africa and Flanders agreed to establish a Multi-Purpose Import Platform in the Port of Antwerp.  Antwerp has been considered as a prime location for such an Import Platform, which will assist South African SME’s in their export endeavours to Europe. While progress has been made with the support of the Flanders Institute for Logistics (VIL), some issues still need to be resolved. During the visit to South Africa by the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister Vanackere, in 2010, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane agreed with him to expedite the process for the operation of this platform. Since the Multi-Purpose Import Platform will be located in Flanders’ region of Antwerp, continued dialogue will assist in understanding the challenges faced and how to expedite the process.

The visit will furthermore focus on Academic Diplomacy, technical research and the Flanders Fields Project .

Regarding Academic Diplomacy, Flanders is an important knowledge area, through its universities and institutes.  Minister- President Peeters will promote this concept during his meetings with South African Universities and it is envisaged that a protocol or agreement could be signed in future to formalise cooperation in this field.

The Minister-President will interact with the University of the Western Cape where he will deliver a lecture on Academic Mobility between Africa and Europe and interact with the researchers and students of the Institutional University Cooperation (IUC) Programme of the Council of Flemish Universities (VLIR). This programme, financed by the Government of Flanders, is aimed at collaborating with a limited number of universities in developing      countries. The principal objectives of the programme are directed towards strengthening the          academic and institutional development of the participating partner universities, as well as improving their capacity for scientific research, administration, and social service.

In respect of technical research, the current trend is the creation of company campuses where small and big companies would interact (Phillips concept) in the fields of, for example, bio technology, nanotechnology, semiconductors, logistics etc. This concept has resulted in a business boom in Flanders. Flanders intends to be amongst the top 5 regions globally by 2020. Minister-President Peeters intends to sell Flanders’ Grand vision to South Africa’s captains of society during his visit. The concept of Captains of Society is applied successfully in Flanders where Prominent Society Members are encouraged to be vision bearers.

The Flanders Fields Project is intended to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. It is expected that South Africa’s participation in the project will be solicited, as South Africans participated in that War and a lot of people lost their lives. The Flanders Fields Project will entail the Flanders Fields Declaration as well as a Conference on Peace and Remembrance to be held in Belgium during 2013. Former President De Klerk has already agreed to participate. The intention is to also invite Archbishop Tutu, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to participate. In this regard, Mr Peeters will meet former President De Klerk and Archbishop Tutu during his visit. The Flanders Fields Project will also entail the sending of a container of soil from the Flanders battle fields to South Africa, The United States of America and the United Kingdom. The holding of a series of seminars is being investigated by Mr. Peeters during the Flanders Fields celebrations aimed to involve the youth in particular to embrace peace instead of conflict.

For further information please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974.


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19 August 2011



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