Remarks at the Closing Ceremony of the Second Session of the South Africa-Algeria Bi-National Commission, 19 October 2001

Your Excellency, President Bouteflika,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners
The Business Delegations from Algeria and South Africa
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have come to the end of our Second Session of the Bi-national Commission for Co-operation between Algeria and South Africa. We have arrived at this point after a great deal of discussion, exchange of ideas and information, visits to various sites of importance, with agreements finalised and signed. In so doing, we have cemented the relationship between our two countries and allowed the friendship between us to grow and to deepen and to bear fruit.

The South African academic and author, Njabulo Ndebele, twenty years ago wrote a poem entitled "The Revolution of the Aged" in which he said the following:

"Do not eat an unripe apple
its bitterness is a tingling knife.
Suffer yourself to wait
And the ripeness will come
And the apple will fall down at your feet.

Now is the time
pluck the apple
and feed the future with its ripeness."
(The Return of the Amazi Bird, Ravan Press, Johannesburg, 1982, p. 388)

I believe that in reviewing the progress that has been made by the various Technical Working Groups, clearly we have worked very hard over the past few days towards making this moment ripe and creating the enabling conditions for the Algeria-South African co-operation and growth and for African development. We have done everything possible in a short space of time so that the people of Algeria and the people of South Africa can work together as one in building a common and prosperous future.

We have seen that by acting together, based on a common vision, we have managed to successfully unite our two countries around a common plan of action and to align our mutual national interests.

This meeting has just seen the signing of additional agreements between our two countries, namely phytosanitory protection, mutual legal assistance, extradition and institutional co-operation in the field of agriculture as well as fisheries and coastal management. In this way, we have begun to share our knowledge and resources for the benefit of both our peoples.

I am also pleased that twinning agreements have been signed between Tshwane and Algiers and between Durban and Oran. In this way, we shall bring our people closer together, to learn from each other and to learn about each other, to exchange ideas on a whole range of issues beneficial to all.

An appraisal of the Technical Working Committees indicates that sectors related to trade, industry and investment; energy, hydrocarbons, and mining; agriculture and water; transport and public works; and information technology and communications offer possibilities around which the economic relationship between South Africa and Algeria should be profiled.

The Working Group dealing with science and technology, health, art and culture, education and vocation training through emphasising partnerships and the creation of an interface between various institutions seeks to improve intellectual relations between our two countries. Further we need to build a common African intelligentsia that is able to address not only the problems in their own country but are fully equipped to meet the challenges presented in other nations and states.

Significant advances were made in the clustered group of transport, public works and tourism, with air and rail partnerships put forward and a framework established to implement tourist related programmes around the country.

Similarly, in the Working Group dealing with Mines, Energy and Hydrocarbons, areas of co-operation included the provision of household gas, the electricity sector, mining, especially mineral beneficiation, and the petrochemical sector.

The meeting of the Technical Working Group on Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Forestry and the Environment focused systematically on areas of strategic importance and succeeded in finalising the Agreement on Insititutional Co-operation in the Field of Agriculture and Co-operation on Phytosanitary matters.

In the group that looked at information and technologies, the focus was on arriving at an understanding of issues and a common framework in which to implement the memorandum of understanding signed last year, notably with a telecommunications policy and regulatory workshop to be held in December in Algiers.

The Working Group on Youth, Sports, Women Empowerment and Handicraft acknowledged that there is significant scope for co-operation between our two countries in terms of poverty alleviation and eradication, rural development, capacity development especially of women and youth.

In the Working Group encompassing Industry, Housing, SMMEs, Privatisation and Pharmaceutical Industries, there have been important developments in the area of pharmaceuticals. We are pleased with the conclusion of a venture agreement that allows a multi-million rand pharmaceutical manufacturing facility to be established in South Africa.

The work of these Working Groups is crucial in that only through a multi-sector and integrated approach can we succeed in our efforts to develop Africa and to build a better life for all African people.

I think that great strides were made in the Strategic Business Forum that began its work prior to the arrival of the official delegation with the meeting of and concluded with the signing of joint ventures between business in both our countries.

We have no choice but to continue to advance our relationship in the economic sectors of trade and investment, infrastructure development, investment in information and communication technologies and human resource and skills development. The sectors that have been identified as key to our economic, trade and investment-driven strategy are also the crucial focuses of attention in the New African Initiative.

Increased intra-Africa trade, strengthened economic and business links between our countries and the nurturing of a sound partnership between government and business will accelerate growth and take us in the right direction to sustained development.

We have managed to arrive at and further enhance a shared political understanding of Africa and her place in the world. Through our meetings we have expanded this relationship to cover a range of economic, social, scientific and cultural sectors that can build our countries and our people.

As we meet here in Pretoria and as indeed when we met last year in Algiers, I believe we are indeed "feeding the future with its ripeness" and making of Africa all that is beautiful, true and new.

In the creation of enabling conditions for African innovation, African splendour, African ownership, African interconnectedness in all possible ways, we are indeed taking this united road of many lanes, many languages, to recovery and sustained development.

May our relationship grow from strength to strength and continue to bear the fruit for present and future renewal and fulfilment.

I thank you.

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