Africa urged to integrate, Unite

Delegates attending the African Union Summit in South Africa have been urged to use the meeting to deepen the continent’s economic integration and unity at a time when the vision of Agenda 2063 is taking shape.

The summit also takes place at a time the continent grapples with terrorism, political instability and sluggish economic growth.

The summit is being held under the theme "Year of Women's Empowerment and Development towards Africa's Agenda 2063". The focus is on the financial inclusion of women in key industries such as agro processing and mining.

There will also be discussions on the continent’s economic performance. The AU says although overall growth rate is short of the targeted seven percent, Africa has consistently been growing at an unprecedented average rate of four to five percent over the last decade.

This growth has mainly been driven by prudent macroeconomic policies, high commodity prices, investment in infrastructure, diversification of trading partners and increasing domestic demand.

The AU Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha told delegates on Sunday that if this pattern of growth continues, Africa can reduce widespread poverty in the next two decades.

He said 2015 is a “pivotal year” for sustainable development and poverty reduction on the continent.

“In fact, through the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, the international community is rallying together to respond in a transformative manner to fundamental challenges facing the world today, eradicating poverty, reducing conflicts and insecurity,” Mwencha said.

It’s highly likely that the summit will also discuss the deteriorating political situation in Burundi. Burundian President Pierre Nkuruziza's decision to run for a third presidential term has sparked violent and deadly protests in the capital Bujumbura. The decision has also led to calls by some African leaders for elections in that country to be postponed.

On Sunday, the summit started with the 30th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) which ended on Monday at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, in Pretoria.

The AU said the PRC would discuss items on the agenda in preparation for the 25th AU Summit to be submitted to the Executive Council for adoption.

Mwencha said African leaders will discuss ways to find a lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi, urging delegates to support that country as it grapples with political instability.

Meanwhile, Brand South Africa, together with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and South African Tourism, also hosted media tours ahead of the summit.

Authorities said the objective of the tours was to profile a country with a rich history of diverse cultures, a land of possibility and opportunity, as well as a proud heritage that continues to shape South Africa’s journey to a thriving democracy.

The tours also included a visit to inner city Johannesburg which showcased how a nation’s competitiveness is born from its cities. – SAnews

SA, Zim sign five bilateral agreements

South Africa and Zimbabwe have elevated bilateral relations with the signing of five agreements set to benefit both countries. The agreements were signed on Wednesday during President Robert Mugabe’s state visit to South Africa at the invitation of President Jacob Zuma.
President Zuma rolled out the red carpet to welcome President Mugabe at the Union Buildings for his first state visit since 1994.
The two countries signed a Bi-National Commission (BNC) Agreement to be led by the two Heads of State, President Zuma and President Mugabe.
The two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Diplomatic Consultations, which will establish a mechanism for regular diplomatic talks on issues such as strengthening bilateral relations, security and cooperation in Africa and other issues of mutual interest.
An Agreement on Cooperation on Water Resources Management was also signed and a Joint Water Commission was established to enhance cooperation in water resources planning, development and management in the spirit of mutual understanding and benefit.
An agreement was also signed regarding mutual assistance between customs administrations between the two countries, which will further cooperation towards the establishment of a one-stop border post. This is viewed as a crucial milestone.
In addition, South Africa and Zimbabwe on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Trade Cooperation.
Addressing a large contingent of local and international media following official talks between the two Presidents held behind closed doors, President Zuma said Ministers from South Africa and Zimbabwe will work together to ensure the implementation of the agreements and others that have been signed over the years.
He said South Africa and Zimbabwe not only share strong historical relations, but also strong economic cooperation to the extent that the economies of the two countries are historically and inextricably linked.
Zimbabwe is always among South Africa’s top three trading partners on the continent, while South Africa is one of the top investors in the Zimbabwean economy.
However, there has been slow implementation of agreements in the past to balance trade between the two southern African countries.
President Zuma said the fact that they discussed the trade balance and elevated relations to the level of a Bi-National Commission shows there is commitment to making sure relations benefit the two sides equally.
“Our desire is to have the economy, as well as trade, that favours both countries … that is what we are working towards,” said President Zuma.
The South Africa-Zimbabwe Business Forum, which will meet on Thursday morning, is also expected to take economic relations forward.
The forum, which will be attended by business leaders from both countries, will look at untapped opportunities for deeper economic cooperation in the fields of mining, water, energy, infrastructure development, transport and information communication technologies, among others.

South Sudan vow closer economic relations

In an effort to enhance and elevate the structured bilateral cooperation between them, South Africa and Sudan have taken a decision to raise the Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation to a ministerial level.
The main objective of the commission will be to promote political, economic and social relations between the two sides.
In this regard, the ministers of International Relations and Cooperation and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been tasked to work with speed to conclude an enabling agreement.
This emerged on Sunday after talks between President Jacob Zuma and Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir. President Zuma was in Sudan capital Khartoum on a working visit.
Sudan and South Africa called for reinforcing economic cooperation and partnership establishment.
The two leaders reaffirmed commitment to reinforcing economic relations by encouraging both countries' private and public enterprises to further involve themselves in establishing partnerships to become a model for South-South cooperation.
“We also agreed to encourage more public and private sector companies to make joint ventures for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples. In this regard, Mr President, we direct our relevant ministers to work tirelessly to enhance our bilateral cooperation,” said President Zuma after the talks.
Already the two countries have sixteen bilateral agreements in a number of fields including trade, agriculture, defence, policing, arts and culture, social development, scientific cooperation.
“We talked about many issues, including the fact that, as African countries, we must be totally independent and take our decisions about our destiny," said President Zuma.
The two presidents also exchanged views on matters of peace and security in the continent, paying particular focus on the on-going conflict in South Sudan.
They called on all the parties involved in the conflict in South Sudan to show leadership and responsibility to bring an end to the conflict.
“To this end, we have committed ourselves to playing our part to help resolve the crisis. The people of South Sudan need peace, security, stability and development,” said President Zuma.
The two leaders also reaffirmed their support to the UN and the African Union as important institutions of consolidation for peace maintenance of regional and international security, according to the communique.
Al-Bashir described President Zuma's visit to Sudan as "fruitful," saying that "we have agreed to promote cooperation, implement all previous agreements and upgrade the joint ministerial committee". - SAnews

SA Ban on Ebola travel

South Africa has taken the decision to impose a total travel ban for all non-citizens traveling from identified high risk countries to limit the spread of Ebola to the country, unless the travel is considered absolutely essential.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said, citizens of South Africa who wish to travel to these countries will be requested to delay their travel unless it is also absolutely essential for them to travel.
The high-risk countries are Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia – with Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia being identified as medium risk.
He said the travel advisory was part of enhanced precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Ebola into South Africa.
“All South Africans are hereby advised to avoid non-essential travel to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone. South Africans are not restricted from travelling to these countries, however all returning travellers from these countries will be subjected to rigorous screening and medical assessments before being allowed entry into the country,” said the minister.
He said South African citizens returning from these countries will have to be subjected to a stricter screening process.
This will include completing a comprehensive health questionnaire before gaining entry back into the country and if the comprehensive medical questionnaire and the temperature screening reveal something, they will have to subject themselves to a complete medical examination.
Minister Motsoaledi said all travellers and crew members arriving into South African Points of Entry must have completed a travel health questionnaire upon arrival.
“If found to have any of the symptoms or signs suggestive of Ebola, they will be referred to one of the designated hospitals for further investigations and management,” he said.
Passengers who travelled from or through Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone within the last month of arrival into South Arica must undergo additional screening at the Points of Entry.

1 2 3 4