Opening Remarks by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the Ministerial Session of the Ninth Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the Republic of South Africa and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Pretoria, 2 October 2019
My Dear Brother, Honourable Minister Onyeama,
Senior Officials from our respective Governments,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Honourable Minister Onyeama and Co-Chair, it is a great honour to warmly welcome you to our country. Please accept our congratulations on your re-appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the elections in your country earlier this year.
South Africa considers Nigeria a great friend and strategic partner. Although located in two geographical locations, far apart from each other – one in the West of Africa and the other in the South, Nigeria became the only West African country to become a member of the “Frontline States” and indeed occupied the trenches of struggle with us.
The historic bonds established during the liberation struggle continue today, now focussed particularly on addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment in our two countries. I wish, at the outset, to thank you for the assistance you gave to us during the recent outbreak of violence against some foreign nationals and many of our own citizens. We have expressed regret at these terrible events on several occasions personally as well as through our President and his special envoys. I was most appreciative of your openness to discussing these challenges with me and the assurance you gave and acted on in support of our missions and South African businesses that faced retaliatory attacks. I hope that our deliberations today and beyond will be the beginning of the further strengthening of our ties, just not between ourselves as Government but between our Parliamentarians and our people.
We meet here today in challenging times as our economies are faced with huge but not insurmountable challenges. South Africa is determined to continue to implement and development strategies directed at ensuring economic growth, socio-economic development and inclusive prosperity for the mutual benefit of all our people and the people of Nigeria. I hope the tasks we will agree to today will create a solid base for expanding economic cooperation and achieving increased levels of prosperity.
This Ninth Session of the BNC is clear evidence of our intentions to further deepen ties. I am encouraged to note that since the signing of the BNC Agreement in 1999, we have been purposeful in pursuing tangible outcomes aimed at ensuring real change.
It is essential that mutually beneficial economic ties and investment flows grow between our two countries as these will be the foundations for mutual benefit and regional integration.
Our interactions and consultations within the framework of the BNC allow us to ensuring monitoring and accountability through overseeing the implementation of all our Agreements. I am pleased to note that thirty-two (32) Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in various fields currently exist between our two countries. I am pleased that several agreement and MOUs are being implemented, however much more still needs to be done.
Furthermore, I am pleased to learn that several Agreements and MoUs between our departments are currently at various stages of implementation.
Our shared goal and vision is to see real change in our peoples livelihoods; we want to see our youth educated, trained and developed to become responsible citizens of our nations; we want to bring women in the fold so that they have full participation in our economies; we want to create sustainable jobs that ensure that our people are independent, self-sustained, enabled and empowered to take charge of their own future and destiny.
In order to achieve this, we have continue cooperation in the fields of mining, infrastructure development, defence and security, economy and finance, trade and investments as well as social and humanitarian affairs, so as to raise our bilateral relations to ever higher levels.
Our cooperation extends too many international institutions, this includes the work our leaders support in NEPAD and the assistance I am sure Nigeria will provide to South Africa as she assumes the Chair of the African Union next year.
South Africa is determined to continue working together with our sister country Nigeria to fast-track Continental cooperation and to take stock of the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). This Agreement, if properly implemented, will unleash Africa’s economic potential and consolidate its position as a new frontier of economic growth and development.
We also need to continue efforts directed at ensuring continental integration and development, as well as peace and security and stability in our countries, the Continent and the World. Together, we remain committed to the implementation of the development aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063 and the UN Agenda 2030.
On our part, as non-permanent members of the UNSC, we remain grateful to our partners such as Nigeria for the vote you have us, and we will continue with the duty entrusted upon us, that of championing the interests of our Continent.
Our meeting today has the task of assessing progress in the implementation of bilateral programmes since our last BNC. I wish to take this opportunity to commend our officials for the work done in preparation for this meeting. I am informed their gathering resulted in fruitful deliberations.
We are looking forward to a report which will hopefully contain action plans and activities that are sustainable and achievable.
I believe we need to inject the impetus that will see our bilateral relations soar to higher levels, where there are difficulties it for us to it that no stone is left unturned to address those. We also need to be bold enough to embark on new initiatives where needed as it is only through our full engagements that we will see the much required positive results.
The outcomes of this meeting will be presented to our Principals. This Ninth Session of the BNC will allow our Principals, His Excellency, President Ramaphosa and His Excellency President Buhari to have the basis for discussing important issues of mutual interest and for further deepening relations between our two countries.
I am looking forward to us working together to ensure the progress and development in collaboration in a true partnership.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road