Address by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Sue van der Merwe on the occasion of the Trade and Investment Seminar on Southern Sudan, 26 February 2009, Hilton Hotel, Sandton

Programme Director
GOSS Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Investment Authority of Southern Sudan, Dr Luka Biong Deng;
GOSS Minister of Regional Co-operation, Dr Marial B Benjamin;
GOSS Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Anthony Lino Makana
Amb of the Sudan to South Africa, Amb Kuol Alor;
Amb of South Africa to the Sudan, Dr Manelisi Genge;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the South African Business Community;
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) Ministers and your delegation to South Africa.  Indeed, we are pleased to have you here in South Africa, and are looking forward to the strengthening of bilateral relations between South Africa and the Sudan, particularly Southern Sudan.

Ministers, your presence today in South Africa does not only symbolise the excellent and constructive relations between our two governments, but also a commitment to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between South Africa and Southern Sudan.

In January 2005, we witnessed the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which brought to an end a long period of devastating civil war in Southern Sudan.  The signing of the CPA ushered in a new era of hope for a better future for Southern Sudan; an era of peace and stability, but also the enormous task of reconstructing and developing a region that has suffered from severe underdevelopment in all walks of life, including infrastructure and human resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen

While the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has been engaged in setting up institutions and structures of governance, the provision of basic services to the people of Southern Sudan, and in ensuring that the CPA brings lasting peace, security and stability in the region, Southern Sudan still faces enormous challenges that have resulted from years of underdevelopment and civil war.

These challenges are not only for Southern Sudanese, but for us as well as part of the international community.  As Africans, we are determined to tackle the challenges that confront our Continent.  In doing this, we are guided by a common vision of an African Continent which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable.  A common vision of the need to forge partnerships between and among governments and all segments of civil society, including the business community.   As Africans we share a common destiny and that none of us can prosper in peace if any African country is weighed down by poverty and underdevelopment.  This means that we cannot be exclusively concerned with our own national interests, but we need to collectively tackle challenges facing us at regional and continental levels.  South Africans today enjoy freedom and democracy as a result of the collective support offered by Africans in our Continent and the international community to free South Africa from apartheid.  The demise of apartheid has given rise to a non-racial, non-sexiest, democratic South Africa.  

It is in the context of co-operation in support of the CPA that the governments of our two countries and all sectors of the South African civil society that this trade and investment seminar on Southern Sudan is arranged.  This seminar provides us with an opportunity to forge the necessary partnerships in working towards the consolidation of peace in Southern Sudan through economic development and by so doing advance the implementation of the CPA.  While development is being witnessed in the Sudan in general, Southern Sudan in particular requires massive investment that would contribute to realising its potential.  The stimulating of the economic potential of a peaceful Sudan would not only contribute to the development of the Horn of Africa region, but also to the regeneration of the African Continent.

The involvement of the Government of South Africa in the Sudan is guided by the desire to see peace, security and stability in a united Sudan.  Pursuant to this objective, the South African government has been holding consultations with the role players in the Sudan.  Furthermore, Minister Dlamini Zuma as the Chair of the African Union Committee on the Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development of the Sudan is also responsible for the engagement of AU member states in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

South Africa’s bilateral relations with the Sudan are conducted within the framework of the Joint Bilateral Commission (JBC), which was established in 2006 as a vehicle to monitor the implementation of decisions and agreements entered into by the two countries in the areas of bilateral co-operation and mutual interest, and this is led by the Ministries of Trade and Industry of both countries.  The second session of the JBC took place in the Sudan in June 2008.  One of the key resolutions from this JBC was the decision to increase the presence of South African businesses in the Sudan as well as to encourage investments from the Sudan to South Africa, in order to stimulate economic development.

In November 2008, the Department of Foreign Affairs led a multi-sectoral delegation to Southern Sudan to identify areas of co-operation in the socio-economic fields.  This is because we believe that the economic development of Southern Sudan will contribute greatly to the post-conflict reconstruction and development of the region. 

As part of South Africa’s contribution to the post conflict reconstruction and development programmes of the Sudan, the Department of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the Government of Southern Sudan and UNISA, is involved in a capacity and institution building project for Southern Sudan.  The Project is aimed at capacitating Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) officials, and in contributing to the strengthening of government institutions in Southern Sudan.  To date, over 1, 000 Government of Southern Sudan Officials have benefitted from the Project and we are currently providing training to 39 Officials from the GOSS Ministry of Legal Affairs, 25 Officials from the GOSS Ministry of Mines and Energy and 20 Officials from the GOSS Judiciary.  Our South African Police Services are in the process of finalising preparations for the training of the Sudanese Police, and the Department of Foreign Affairs is also finalising preparations for assisting the Sudan National Electoral Commission, which has a mandate to oversee general elections in the Sudan in 2009.

Also, as an example of Co-operation between ourselves and the countries of the north, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany contributed 1,080, 000.00 Euros to the Project for the training of GOSS officials in the fields of legal affairs, judiciary and correctional services

South Africa will soon be opening a Consulate General Office in Juba, Southern Sudan to create an environment of extensive engagement between us and the peoples of Southern Sudan. This also is part of our department’s decision to expand South Africa’s representation throughout the continent.  Two officials are already deployed there, and together with our Mission in Khartoum, are making preparations for the opening of the South African Consulate in Juba.  We are hopeful that this objective will be achieved by April this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We remain concerned with some of the internal challenges facing the Sudan. 

In an effort to see peace prevail in the Darfur region, South Africa has contributed peacekeepers and civilian police to the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).  We are encouraged by the recent signing of the Agreement of Goodwill and Confidence Building for the settlement of the crisis in Darfur on 17 February 2009 which was concluded in Doha, Qatar under the auspice of the Qatar Initiative working closely with the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur.

Despite some of the internal challenges facing the Sudan, we are confident that as the Sudan progresses, economic opportunities will be extensive. Sudan will open up markets to the region, as Southern Sudan’s potential is unsurpassed in all sectors.  It still remains an untapped territory in almost all areas, including agriculture, stock-farming and minerals, where vast areas remain unexplored.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I am confident that the presentations you will hear today will entice your interest to further explore a world of opportunities in Southern Sudan.

Let me take this opportunity to thank our partners, the Department of Trade and Industry and Upbeat Marketing for the excellent co-operation in arranging this seminar which we are hopeful will be an unqualified success.

Let me also welcome Ministers from the Government of Southern Sudan, His Excellencies Minister Benjamin, Minister Biong Deng, and Minister Makana to South Africa and wish you a pleasant stay. Lastly, I would like to thank each of you for being here today at this important occasion for South Africa and Southern Sudan.

I thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

26 February 2009

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