8 October 2004
President Thabo Mbeki and his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika wrapped up two days of talks in Pretoria this week, urging business in the two countries to find ways to overcome barriers to trade, and called for a “free and fair referendum” in Western Sahara.
The former Spanish colony has been occupied by Morocco in defiance of the United Nations since Spain’s withdrawal in 1976.
Mbeki and Bouteflika reaffirmed their support for a UN peace plan, captured in Security Council Resolution 1495, which calls for a political solution providing for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
Mbeki and Bouteflika emphasised the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination through a transparent, free and fair referendum as the only way to a lasting and peaceful resolution of the conflict.
South Africa has established diplomatic links with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which has an ambassador in Pretoria.
SA-Algeria Business Forum
The two presidents also urged business in their respective countries to find ways to overcome barriers to trade through the SA-Algeria Business Forum.
Mbeki said language and culture barriers should not stop business people from exploring trade opportunities.
Bouteflika said there were many business opportunities in Algeria, as his administration was undertaking economic reforms to remove blockages hindering economic development.
“There is a political will to develop the Algerian economy and build partnerships between South Africa and Algeria”, Bouteflika said. “It’s for this forum to produce practical solutions on how the two countries should do business.”
The Algerian Chamber of Commerce and Business Unity South Africa have signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate trade opportunities between the two countries.
Algeria holds substantial potential for South African investors, with hydrocarbons, pharmaceuticals, construction, manufacturing and financial services offering potentially lucrative opportunities.
South African and Algerian pharmaceutical companies Saidal and Beula have signed agreements to jointly develop specific products. Umngeni Water and the East Rand Water Board are negotiating for water reticulation and purification projects in Algeria.
Similarly, various engineering, telecommunications and IT companies are bidding for an assortment of projects in Algeria. Ninham Sands recently won a tender to participate in the Algerian Highway Project.