STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT MBEKI'S VISIT TO ALGERIA AND THE SA-ALGERIA BINATIONAL COMMISSION
The SA-Algeria Binational Commission (BNC) was launched yesterday by President Mbeki of South Africa and President Bouteflika of Algeria. The Minister of Defence, Mr. Lekota and his counterpart, General Lamari of Algeria signed a Military Co-operation Agreement between the two countries.
President Mbeki then attended a State Banquet accompanied by South African Ministers and members of the Business Delegation accompanying the delegation.
As part of the ceremonial events for the State Visit to Algeria the President laid a wreath at the Riad El Makam Echahid (Revolutionary Monument) this morning to commemorate Algerian revolutionaries of the struggle for Algerian independence. He also visited the Armed Forces Museum adjacent to the Martyr's monument where he was given a guided tour of the museum entailing history of the Algerian populations from the time of Berber civilisations, through Roman and French conquests and the war of Algerian independence. President Mbeki and a delegation of Ministers and business people then visited SNVI, a state-owned company that manufactures heavy-duty vehicles.
After lunch the African Diplomatic Corps accredited to Algeria paid a courtesy call on the President before a tŠte-a- tŠte with President Bouteflika. The Head of the Senate hosts an official dinner for the President and his delegation this evening.
On Sunday, 24 September 2000, the two Presidents will preside over the Closing Ceremony of the Binational Commission where agreements having reached conclusion will be signed. (Detailed report on the BiNational Commission follows)
President Mbeki, followed by President Bouteflika will then depart for Lom‰, Togo for a meeting with other African leaders about the political developments in the Ivory Coast.
Details of developments on the Bi-National Commission with Algeria follow:
BI-NATIONAL COMMISSION (BNC) BETWEEN ALGERIA AND SOUTH AFRICA
A number of Technical Working Groups (TWGs) led at Ministerial level and comprised of senior officials from both governments have been meeting to establish concrete areas of Bilateral co-operation. Each TWG has been dealing with a cluster of issues and are listed below:
Science, Technology, Culture, Arts and Education;
Trade and Finance;
Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mines;
Agriculture, Fisheries, Water Forestry and Environment
Information and Technology, Telecommunications and Communication;
Justice and Home Affairs;
Tourism, Youth, Sports, Women Empowerment and Handicraft;
Industry, SMME, Privatisation and Pharmaceutical Industry; and
Security matters; and
Considerable progress has been achieved by each of the technical working groups and major agreements have been reached by a number of them.
Agreement covering the following areas has been reached:
* Defence industry including military procurement;
* Personnel training and
* Exchange of defence related information.
Trade and Finance (this TWG has been combined with Industry, SMME, Privatisation and Pharmaceutical Industry)
Agreement covering the following areas has been reached:
* Exchange of information to promote two way trade;
* Facilitate co-operation between business people from the two countries and in particular the chambers of commerce of the two countries;
* Co-ordination between the two countries in multi-lateral affairs and the sharing of experiences of their interaction regarding WTO and the EU Trade Agreement.
There is also a commitment to share experiences regarding the privatisation of state owned entities. Significant progress has been achieved in two major projects involving the private sector. These relate to the modernisation of the Algiers Airport and the construction of an east-west highway. The TWG is likely to reach agreement on an MOU dealing with the provision of assistance in the field of management training and privatisation. There exists good possibility of reaching agreement on facilitation and protection of investments.
Considerable progress covering the following areas has been achieved in regards to the exchange of information and experiences in a number of areas. There is also a commitment to co-operate with the South African fisheries industry in a number of areas that include:
* Conservation and management of fisheries resources;
* Fisheries policy;
* Joint ventures in the areas of fish production, manufacturing of tools and equipment for Mari-culture and the manufacture of fish food; and
* Marine research.
Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mines
There would be co-operation and partnerships in the following areas:
* Co-operation in mining and geological services research;
* Partnerships in the development of small and medium scale mining;
* Projects related to the construction of a petroleum refinery (in Southern Algeria) and the exploration for crude oil and gas in Algeria;
* Downstream co-operation/partnership in the distribution of petroleum products;
* Exchange of experiences in the technologies of transformation of gas to liquids;
* Partnerships for the exploration and development of mineral deposits.
Agreements have been reached in the following areas:
* Promotion and development of exchanges in the fields of technology and training;
* Promotion of a programme of co-operation between public and private companies in the broad area of energy, hydrocarbons and mining.
The other technical working groups have also achieved considerable progress and these are briefly summarised.
The TWG in Tourism, Youth, Sports, Women Empowerment and Handicraft has facilitated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on bi-lateral co-operation in sport and recreation. This would include the exchange of experts in specific sporting codes, the encouragement of competition, co-operation in sports science and the organising of sporting activities for people with disability. Significant progress has been made in the discussions on the areas of youth, employment (and empowerment) of women and disability. These discussions would be followed up by an exchange of delegations to further discuss and refine proposals for co-operation.
The TWG on Information and Technology, Telecommunications and Communication is confident that the respective Ministers would sign a MOU covering the areas of -
* Roaming GSM;
* Spectrum frequency management and planning;
* Management of telecommunication networks by satellites;
* Computer science and the Internet;
* Fast mail courier services;
* Technical standards certification;
* Co-operation, consultation and lobbying strategies in international organisations;
* Sharing of experiences in satellite, land line, cell phones, and modernisation of the sector; and
* Human resource development.
The technical working group on Science, Technology, Culture, Arts and Education in regards to co-operation in general and Higher Education have achieved considerable progress. These areas include matters pertaining to curriculum and scientific research. The areas being dealt with by the TWG include a protocol on co-operation in science and technology; health and medical research projects and vocational training. The Algerian Government has also provided a list of priority areas in the field of culture and communication where they desire collaboration with the SA Government.
The technical working group on Agriculture, Fisheries, Water Forestry and Environment has attained significant progress in regards to water resources conservation and management. An agreement is about to be struck on a major public private partnership venture being pursued by the Umgeni Water Board with their Algerian counterpart. The two parties have reaffirmed their commitment to implement the bi-lateral agreement reached previously on agricultural research and phytosanitary protection. The TWG has also agreed to exchange information on environmental matters as well as to cooperate in the multi-lateral arena. In regards to the latter there is a commitment to develop an Africa wide position on the Rio plus 10 Summit.
The technical working group dealing with the Justice and Home Affairs Cluster is on the verge of reaching agreement on an extradition treaty with the Algerian counterparts. Agreement on one issue requires to be reached for an agreement to be signed.
Of major importance is the Business Forum that has been meeting in parallel with the BNC. Over 30 major enterprises from South Africa including Parastatals have been involved in meeting with their Algerian counterparts. The Business Forum has been engaged in major discussions on how to deepen their joint involvement in a number of areas including ports, airports and rail transport; telecommunications; oil and gas; agro-processing; pharmaceutical industry; the development of SMMEs; investment promotion; power generation and the banking sector.
Considerable progress has been made to finalise twinning agreements between major South African cities and their Algerian counterparts. An agreement between Pretoria and Algiers has been finalised and would be signed. It is very likely that a similar agreement between Oran and Durban would also be finalised.
Enquiries: Tasneem Carrim, 083 650 7119
Issued by the Presidency, 23 September 2000