SA, Angola to cooperate in oil sector

Friday, August 21, 2009

Luanda - South Africa and the oil-rich Angola signed a number of trade agreements including cooperation in the oil sector, following major bilateral talks aimed at strengthening economic relations on Thursday.

The agreement will allow South Africa's state oil company PetroSA and Angola's Sonangol to work together in oil projects, as well as in the areas of exploration, refining and distribution of oil.

Angola, which is Africa's biggest oil producer, has only one refinery in Luanda. It currently imports a great deal of its refined gasoline.

President Jacob Zuma met with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos during a state visit in the country on Thursday. He was accompanied by 11 ministers and more than 150 business leaders, making it the biggest delegation South Africa has sent outside the country since 1994.

Mr Zuma said was an indication of the seriousness of the relations South Africa's aimed to forge.

President Dos Santos hailed the visit as the start of a new era of co-operation between Africa's biggest economy and its biggest oil producer.

Mr Dos Santos said Angola needed more qualified labour from South Africa, which in turn could help rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Angola's 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and tap into its oil industry.

"We want to create a strategic partnership between our two countries," he said.

The pair also discussed the supply and distribution of electricity from the Democratic Republic of Congo's Inga hydroelectric plant and other regional infrastructure projects to facilitate business.

They also signed air services and diplomatic consultation agreements, as well as other memorandums on trade, industry, commerce, housing, and sport and recreation.

It was further agreed that a Bi-National Commission would be established to upgrade and coordinate all relations between the two countries political, economic and social.

Both leaders said they would also discuss ways to bolster cooperation and peacekeeping efforts in Africa through the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Angola and South Africa, which have two of the biggest military forces in Africa, will discuss peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and assess progress in the Zimbabwean unity government

Mr Zuma said the agreements would change the economic landscape of Southern Africa.

He encouraged business people from both countries to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the revival of the economic relations between the two countries.

"I urge business leaders of both our countries to explore these avenues of collaboration and turn potential into profit," said Mr Zuma, adding that they had committed to conducting fair business practices.

Before he leaves on Friday, Mr Zuma will travel north of Luanda to visit former ANC military bases and to honour the MK cadres who died there.