Closing Address by Deputy President Zuma to the 4th Session of the Nigerian/South African Binational Commission

Your Excellency, my dear brother, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Government Ministers,
Deputy Ministers and Ministers of State present,
Premiers and Governors present,
The High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to South Africa and other members of the diplomatic corp,
Distinguished guests,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,

After two weeks of intensive and fruitful discussions of the various working groups this 4th Session of the South African-Nigerian Binational Commission is being concluded.

Let me at the outset thank all the delegates for their hard work, which ensured the success of this fourth session.

My Dear Brother, Mr Vice President, we have taken note of your wish for agreements concluded to be implemented and diligently monitored. We share these sentiments completely, and look forward to the establishment of the Special Implementation Committee on BNC Matters, as agreed to in this session.

From our side, Your Excellency, it indicates that we need to monitor the implementation process much more closely, to ensure that our respective governance systems and rules do not impede the required progress, as envisioned in our final communiqué.

As happened previously, we have again exceeded our own expectations with the progress made in this Session, indicated by the following agreements and memoranda of understanding that were concluded:

(i) Extradition Agreement,

(ii) Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters,

(iii) Agreement on Immigration Matters,

(iv) Agreement on co-operation in the field of health and medical sciences,

(v) A Programme of Work on Scientific and Technological Co-Operation,

(vi) Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in the field of Sport & Recreation;

(vii) Omnibus Memorandum of Understanding on Information and Communication Technologies,

(viii) An agreement on expedited mail services and a memorandum of understanding on postal mail security.

I am sure you are as happy as I am, My Dear Brother, with the progress made in the different working groups.

We noted in the opening session the need for intensifying linkages in all spheres, one of the key areas being the economic sphere.

In the Trade, Industry and Finance Working Group, a programme of action has been prepared to further boost the key areas of co-operation between our two countries.

The areas of co-operation include:

Co-operation on specific industrial sector projects.
A joint study on investment opportunities in the two countries. In this regard, information will be exchanged on investment opportunities by next month, and also to prepare and submit specific profiles on identified projects by May 2002.
The sharing of information on the programme of restructuring of state owned enterprises in both countries has also been agreed upon.

A significant development as well, My Dear Brother, is the establishment of the Binational Investment Forum to facilitate joint ventures between the private sectors of our two countries, promote competitiveness and the achievement of rapid economic growth.

We hope that the private sector will expeditiously take up the many business opportunities that exist, and those that will be opened up in future by such a forum. The discussions at the South Africa-Nigeria Business Summit were a good indication of the enthusiasm of the business sector.

I must hasten to add, Your Excellency, that we will carefully study the response of your delegation to our initial submission on the Nigeria-South Africa Free Trade Area. We are both in agreement on the need to expedite this process.

Distinguished guests, the health of our peoples remains uppermost in our agendas, and the agreement on areas of co-operation within the health arena is crucial.

This BNC has correctly decided to prioritise co-operation on HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health as well as the manufacture, control, import and exports of drugs and medicines. With regard to the related issue of water and sanitation, the respective Ministers agreed to implement projects in other areas such as irrigation, water supply and sanitation among others, within the context of NEPAD.

Similarly on the agricultural front, the previous agreement was expanded in areas of animal and plant health, agricultural processing, research and capacity building.

Mr Vice President, this BNC endeavours to embody the vision and mission of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), as we strive to meet our objectives of continuing to improve the lives of our peoples.

In this regard, we have noted the deliberations of the NEPAD Heads of State Implementation Committee in Abuja this week, who once again emphasized the centrality of the commitment to sustainable growth and development.

The meeting in Abuja also underscored the need for greater co-ordination of sub-regional mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution within the African Union mechanism and the United Nations Security Council.

Our two countries, Your Excellency, have continuously stressed the imperative of ensuring that peace and stability becomes a reality in the continent, as envisaged also by the intensive discussion of this question in this BNC.

Also important to note in this Session, My Dear Brother, is the strong support by the Abuja meeting, of the African Peer Review Mechanism as well as the Draft Report on Good Governance and Democracy, again matters that are at the top of the agendas of our two countries.

The Heads of State Summit emphasized a need for an effective peer review mechanism, which would be designed, owned and managed by Africans. This mechanism, the Heads of State emphasized, must be credible, transparent and all encompassing, to demonstrate that African leaders are fully aware of their responsibilities and obligations to their peoples.

In light of this, we must, for the record, My Dear Brother, remind this gathering of the new direction taken by the leaders of this continent.

Such commitments on matters such as the peer review mechanism, coming from our Heads of State directly, shows that this continent is serious about the road ahead for Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen, we touched on the issue of terrorism on the first day of this session.

You will note that this BNC has agreed that it is necessary for the focal points on terrorism in our respective capitals and our respective missions in New York, to meet and work out joint approaches and strategies on the fight against terrorism, in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and decisions.

We also agreed that it is appropriate for our two countries to discuss all the implications of terrorism, taking into account the definition, risks and impact on individual economies, and regional security.

You will recall that this week's meeting of the Heads of State in Abuja, ladies and gentlemen, follows the United Nations "Financing for Development Conference" in Mexico last week which emerged with the "Monterrey Consensus".

We welcome the commitments made by our development partners at the conference in Mexico, to provide increased funding for Africa's development. We further note the hope expressed by the Heads of State in Abuja, that these commitments, would be speedily actualized.

This includes the requests of the developing nations at the WTO meeting in Doha to equalize trade, and further attend to debt relief. We say this, mindful of the fact that a substantial increase in official development assistance and other resources will be required, if developing nations are to achieve the development objectives agreed to in the United Nations Millennium Declaration in September 2000.

The United Nations has calculated that one hundred billion US dollars is required to meet commitments on poverty eradication in the decades ahead.

Currently, the commitments stand at fifty billion US dollars, and the resolve seems to exist, to make up the shortfall.

Our Working Group on Foreign Affairs and Co-Operation also discussed the problem of external debt, which is plaguing developing countries. An agreement was reached that forums such as the Africa-European Union Ministerial Conference, China-Africa Forum, multilateral financial institutions and other bilateral forums be used to advocate effective debt relief for Africa.

This BNC has also recommended that our respective Ministries of Finance work towards preparing common positions in preparation for the Africa-EU Ministerial conference on External Debt in Burkina Faso, in November this year.

Having said all this, we must also note, My Dear Brother, that at this week's Abuja meeting, the need to further expand relations with international development partners was emphasised.

We must add our voices in appreciating the new commitment to African development programmes by the developed world, and ensure that engagement with the developed North meets our objectives of extricating the continent from underdevelopment.

For this reason, we are looking forward to fruitful discussions at the next G8 Summit in Canada in June this year. Africa will go there with confidence, given the support NEPAD has received from the developed world thus far, as recent engagements and discussions indicate.

My dear brother, this BNC has also agreed that our two countries need to work together to ensure that the World Summit on Sustainable Development meets the expectations of the developing world. In this regard, we need to put forward a detailed blueprint for sustainable development for the continent on the table in August.

Your Excellency, there is still a busy year ahead for our two countries, as we need to work together on various programmes during the year, on conflict prevention and resolution, the establishment and operationalisation of the African Union, the World Summit on Sustainable Development and various other bilateral and multilateral areas.

Through agreements reached in this session, My Dear Brother, it is clear that the gains made are going to be felt by ordinary people in our two countries.

My Dear Brother, allow me to state once again, what a pleasure it was for us to be able to host you and your delegation for this fourth session.

It is always sad to come to the end of our engagements, but work needs to be done. We look forward to getting together again soon.

Have a safe trip back home.

I Thank You

 

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