8 March 2005
As Deputy President Jacob Zuma leads a high-level delegation to Libya, South African companies have been urged to seize the opportunities that have opened up in the oil-rich country since the lifting of sanctions.
Zuma, Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and a business delegation left for a three-day visit to the country on Tuesday.
Briefing the media in Pretoria on Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said the current level of trade between the two countries was unacceptable, particularly given the lifting United Nations, United States and European Union sanctions on Libya.
Total trade between SA and Libya is reported to be in the region of R70-million.
“It is inexplicable why the trade figures are so low”, Pahad said, adding that Libya was expecting a new wave of oil exploitation that would increase its reserves from the current 36 billion barrels to an estimated 100 billion barrels.
“Foreign direct investment is also expected to increase to approximately US$50-billion by 2010”, Pahad said. “Clearly this will give a major economic boost to Libya and will open up tremendous potential.”
Pahad said that various agreements were in place between the two countries, making it easier for the South African private sector to exploit economic opportunities in Libya in sectors such as tourism, oil exploration, agriculture, communications, mining, manufacturing, and textiles.
He said South Africa should seize the opportunity to play an integral role in helping Libya develop its tourism sector, since it possessed one of Africa’s best coastlines.
SA’s high-level visit to Libya comes after Tripoli denounced its nuclear weapons programme and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Zuma and Libyan Prime Minister Shukri Mohammed Ghanem are expected to discuss relations between the two countries, the operationalisation of the African Union and its organs, the implementation of Nepad as the continent’s socio-economic programme, and efforts to achieve peace and stability on the continent.
While in Libya, Zuma is also expected to pay a courtesy call on President Muammar Qaddafi, co-sign an air service agreement, and visit the Roman Ruins at Leptus Magna.