Your Excellency Mr Kassoma, Prime Minister of the Republic of Angola,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
South African and Angolan business leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are pleased to be able to interact with the business community of both South Africa and Angola during this historic first State visit to this sister country.
We believe that the visit marks a new era in post-liberation cooperation and relations between Angola and South Africa.
Our two countries and peoples have a history born out of struggle.
It is an important natural progression that we should now take this relationship to a higher level through cementing social, economic and political cooperation.
In our last party-to-party visit last year, we agreed with His Excellency President dos Santos that we need to work further to boost our economic relations.
We agreed that we had not even begun to tap into the huge potential that exists for economic cooperation.
That is why I decided to bring a big business delegation to Angola.
Our 150-strong business delegation is the biggest that South Africa has ever taken anywhere on a State visit. It indicates the seriousness with which we view our relations with this sister country.
As Africa's largest economy South Africa is in a position to be of benefit to Africa's largest oil producer. Already trade between our two countries has improved immensely, especially since the signing of the peace agreement in 2002.
In 2007, SA exports to Angola amounted to R6 billion whilst Angolan exports to South Africa amounted to R12 billion.
The establishment of a Presidential Bi-National Commission, which have agreed upon today, will provide political and strategic leadership and guidance to the bilateral partnership between the two countries.
The BNC will not only elevate bilateral cooperation between the two countries, but would also keep up the required momentum in the implementation of agreements and programmes of action.
The BNC will enable us to intensify cooperation in various areas including trade and industry, mining and energy, defence and security, immigration, tourism, communication, science and technology, banking, agriculture and transportation.
Already there are a number of areas of co-operation between South Africa and Angola in an effort to stimulate economic cooperation between both countries.
We are pleased that our Department of Trade and Industry has participated in the launch of four corridors that have the potential to integrate the region as well as maximise economic benefits for the Angolan economy.
The Namibe, Lobito, Malanje and Cabinda corridors are part of the Regional Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) Programme.
This has been extended to the Trans-Cunene Corridor, which links the capitals of Angola and Namibia. Through Trade and Investment South Africa, the Trade and Industry department is also involved in the one million housing project in Angola.
The Department of Energy is working with their Angolan counterparts in the fields of amongst others electricity supply, electrification, nuclear, renewable energy, energy efficiency, specific electricity projects and downstream oil and gas.
A Working Group, consisting of officials from our two countries, is collaborating to revitalise the Huambo electricity distribution project that was initiated with the assistance of funding from the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
The Working Group is also working on the Lubango Housing Project with a view to finding the most appropriate manner of integrating electrification and energy efficiency into this housing development.
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Enterprises, through Eskom, is currently involved in the rehabilitation of the Huambo City electricity grid network.
Eskom is also participating in the development of 3500MW hydro power station at Inga III on the Congo River.
We have noted the enormous amount of reconstruction work being undertaken in the country, to rebuild infrastructure that was destroyed during the war. We are undergoing a similar programme in South Africa.
A number of South African companies are already involved in this sector. Other sectors in which South African companies have invested are mining, housing, food and beverage, hotels and leisure, banking, distribution and medical rescue.
South Africa's know-how in other areas, such as in the Agricultural field and Information Technology, is another asset that could translate into business opportunities.
There is already a good avenue for enhancing business-to-business cooperation between the two countries, in the form of the South Africa-Angola Chamber of Commerce.
I have been informed by some of our businesspeople that the Chamber has enabled the sharing of experiences, and they now better understand the business environment in Angola.
There is scope for the development of a concerted and intensive strategy between relevant government institutions and organised business to further maximise potential business opportunities.
For example, opportunities exist for South African security companies to play a meaningful role in the eradication of landmines.
In addition to providing an economic stimulus, this will boost agricultural activity, as land will be freed for better use.
Angola has a considerable natural resource base in the form of extensive reserves of oil, gas, diamonds and other minerals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As can be seen, there is very much a mutually beneficial relationship already in existence.
Both countries seek to draw on their strengths with a view to enhancing economic development between Angola and South Africa.
As you would be aware, the year 2010 will be a busy and exciting one for our two countries at a sports level.
South Africa will be hosting the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup while Angola will host the Africa Cup of Nations.
The sporting events provide opportunities for cooperation in the organization of the two events.
Working together we can do much more to extend all these areas of cooperation and encourage economic development in our regions.
I urge business leaders from both our countries to fully explore these avenues of collaboration and turn potential into profit.
Your Excellency Prime Minister, we have committed ourselves over the years to contribute to building a better Africa and a better world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The main goal of our government for the medium term is to ensure that our foreign relations contribute to the creation of an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth and development.
To this effect, we will continue to prioritise the African continent by contributing to the strengthening of the African Union and its structures, and give special focus to the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
Equally important, is the strengthening of regional integration with particular emphasis on improving the political and economic integration of SADC, towards the AU goal of a Union government.
We will establish a South African Development Partnership Agency to promote developmental partnerships with other countries on the continent.
South Africa will continue to assist in the reconstruction and development of the African continent especially in post-conflict situations.
Such programmes will need the participation of all sectors, including the business community. For peace to hold, we need development.
We will then be partnering with the business community where we can, on peace building initiatives, in order to achieve a peaceful, stable continent.
Your Excellency Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, let me congratulate our respective business sectors for a productive session.
We are pleased that business is taking this renewal of relations between the two countries as seriously as we are. This period of renewal must lead to prosperity and the eradication of poverty that affect millions of our people.
I thank you.