President Zuma returns to South Africa from West African visit
President Jacob Zuma returned to South Africa today, 12 December 2011, after concluding a working visit to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and an official visit to the Republic of Benin.
President Zuma used the visits to strengthen relations with the governments and peoples of the two countries, and held fruitful discussions with the Heads of State in the two countries, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and President Bon Yayi of the Republic of Benin.
In Nigeria, President Zuma underscored the need for the two countries to work together to entrench Africa’s authority and position in the world.
“Nigeria and South Africa have a responsibility to play a leading role in the promotion of African regeneration and progress. We have recommitted to working even more closely together,” said the President.
In Benin the two Presidents committed themselves to advancing political and economic cooperation. On economic matters, the two countries will explore cooperation on energy, especially renewable energy as well as defence and transport.
Among the highlights of the visit to Benin, the South African Minister of Transport Mr Sbu Ndebele signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement with his counterpart Minister Lambert Koty which will yield, amongst others, direct flights between South Africa and Benin, operated by the national courier the South African Airways from January 2012.
President Zuma was also honoured with honorary doctorates in both Nigeria an Benin which he said was a recognition of the contribution to development and progress in Africa by not only himself as an individual but of South Africa.
The American University of Nigeria awarded the President with an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Philosophy for his contribution to education and human development. The University of Abomey-Calavi of Benin awarded the doctorate for the President’s commitment to education, peace, stability and sustainable development in Africa.
The two awards brought to eight the number of honorary degrees received by the President to date.
Others are from the University of Fort Hare, University of Zululand, Medical University of Southern Africa, University of the North (2001), University of Zambia (2009) and Texas Southern University (2011).
President Bon Yayi further awarded President Zuma with Benin’s highest order, the Grand Croix de l’Ordre National (Grand Cross of the National Order) and the Traditional Chieftaincy Award “Dah Nonvignon” or King of Brotherhood for promoting unity in South Africa and Africa.
“We look forward to great benefits for the country and the people of South Africa arising from such successful visits to the two countries in the West Africa,” said President Zuma.