Address at the Opening of the Second
Session of the South African-Algerian Bi-National Commission,
17 October 2001
Your Excellency, President Bouteflika,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Ambassadors,
The Business Delegations from Algeria and South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to South Africa and to this Second Session
of our Bi-National Commission.
We are meeting here today to review the progress that
we have made and to take new decisions further to cement
the relations between Algeria and South Africa.
As we are all aware, when we established the Bi-National
Commission, we sought to encourage, develop and consolidate
political, economic, cultural and technological relations
between our two countries and peoples.
The BNC strengthened our already strong relations and
laid the basis for all of us to work together with the
leadership of other countries on the continent to initiate
concrete programme for the renewal and recovery of Africa.
Naturally, as we review our work, we will do so in
the context of our common desire to consolidate the
relationship between South Africa and Algeria but within
the framework of the new approach to development in
Africa. I refer here both to the African Union and MAP
or the New African Initiative.
In furtherance of our strategic relationship, we signed
nine (9) new Agreements in the Inaugural Session of
the BNC in the year 2000. This was in addition to the
eight (8) Agreements signed during the JBC in 1998.
We now have a total of seventeen (17) Agreements between
our two countries.
Accordingly, these agreements form the building blocks
of our strategic partnership, around which meaningful
relationships at the political, economic and social
levels are constantly strengthened.
We will obviously also look closely at the nine different
clustered Technical Working Groups (TWGs) which are
supervised by the Political Committee of the BNC headed
by our respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
The establishment of a Business Forum that meets parallel
to the BNC is based on our understanding that economic
development and the challenges of creating an enabling
environment for business, in both our countries, can
be expedited through direct and regular interaction
between our business people and in the context of building
strong public private partnerships.
President Bouteflika and I remain convinced that significant
economic progress can be achieved for Algeria and South
Africa, through the pursuit and promotion of well-defined
projects in strategic economic sectors.
While taking into account progress made by the Technical
Working Groups and the Business Forum since September
2000, it is important that the Second Session should
seek further to explore and enhance this strategic relationship
between our two countries.
In this regard, there are five critical areas that
are showing some potential of taking our relationship
to higher levels.
The first of these is in the areas of Trade, Finance,
Customs, Chamber of Commerce as well as Industry, SMME,
the State Corporations and Pharmaceutical Industry.
We are of one mind that we should construct a preferential
trade system between our two countries and thus increase
trade between Algeria and South Africa.
The second is the area of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water,
Forestry and Environment. Our common challenge is to
increase our capacity for water management. Our two
countries have similar problems of water scarcity occasioned
by similar climates.
We are indeed happy that our Water ministers together
with the Nigerian minister of Water Resources signed
an agreement on the 11th September this year.
Through this agreement we will use our joint capacities
to ensure collaboration in water purification, waste
water treatment and in the training of science and engineering
This will clearly be to the benefit of our two countries.
We have learned that Algeria will, in the next few
years, become one of the largest producers of grapes.
South Africa has an established wine industry and I
trust that together we have the possibility to build
a strong wine industry between our countries.
We also need to strengthen our collaboration in the
field of agricultural and food research so that we take
advantage of our comparative advantages in the Agro-industrial
This should include Fishing, so that we can exchange
expertise in the regulatory mechanisms as well as the
technology of fish harvesting, canning and marketing,
helping to build competitive industries.
The third critical area is that of Transport, Tourism,
Public Works and Housing. This is largely the area that
deals with Infrastructure.
We must work towards the situation such that as we
build infrastructure we use our own resources and expertise.
As we construct roads, build harbours and upgrade and
improve existing facilities I am certain we can work
together in a mutually beneficial manner.
It is encouraging to see that there are already significant
engagements between companies from our two countries
in the various areas of infrastructure development.
Both Algeria and South Africa have a huge potential
in the Tourism industry. Despite the immediate problems
that I believe we will overcome, we need to explore
ways and means of improving this critical industry that
will assist in the creation of much needed jobs in our
The fourth area is that of Energy, Hydrocarbons and
Mines. Algeria already has a developed and strong industry
and has a lot of experience to share with South Africa.
Clearly, we have to enhance our capacity and skills
development in the area of beneficiation of raw materials
as well as improving the infrastructure in the energy,
hydrocarbons and mining.
Already, there are oil and gas explorations in Algeria
and South Africa and joint ventures in other African
There are opportunities in the construction and maintenance
of pipelines, co-operation in downstream petrochemical
industries and in the marketing of hydrocarbons and
The fifth area is Information Technology, Telecommunication
and Communication. There are opportunities that should
be explored in a number of information and communication
fields including in the fibre optic, Internet systems
and supply of equipment.
Work is already being done in all the five areas that
we have mentioned. This opens up opportunities that
we should pursue with some determination.
While we mention some of these areas as having the
potential of taking us forward in the short term, we
should still emphasise that all the areas that form
the essential core of the Bi-National Commission, are
of a strategic nature, and we should spare no effort
in ensuring that we achieve advances in these areas
For Algeria, for South Africa, for all of Africa, through
the programmes that we have identified, we are taking
a journey into a more humane, people-centred and prosperous
future. To arrive there, we have to work harder.
As Frantz Fanon, the great champion of our people said
"The inter-African solidarity must be a solidarity
of fact, a solidarity of action.... Africa shall be
free. Yes, but it must get to work, it must not lose
sight of its own unity." (Towards the African Revolution,
Monthly Review Press 1980, p. 173)
Although Frantz Fanon did not live to see a free Africa,
he has inspired all of us to struggle hard, to work
hard for the realisation of the common vision.
Clearly, what motivates us in this practical programme
of action is a profoundly human understanding and agreement
that none but ourselves can set our countries and continent
on a recovery path.
Relying on this Bi-National Commission and its different
Working Groups, we have embarked on an important path
of development that should be a good example of intra-African
and South-South co-operation.
The commitment and passion of all our representatives
here, to develop our countries and peoples, will ensure
that we do succeed. Once more I welcome our Algerian
friends to this, their second home, and wish our delegations
success in their work
I thank you.