French boost for SA development

5 April 2006

The French government is to spend €400-million (about R3-billion) over four years on infrastructure and environment development projects in South Africa, visiting French Minister for Cooperation and Development Bridgette Girardin said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The funds, to be rolled out over the next four years, will be channelled through the French Development Agency (AFD). Girardin handed a draft document containing the financial pledge to Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi on Tuesday.

“France, in accordance with the needs of South Africans, will concentrate her support over the next four years to development projects in three fields: basic infrastructure and services, employment, the environment and the fight against climate change,” Girardin said.

She also indicated that, while 80% of France’s support would go to these three fields, her government was also prepared to commit funds in other areas such as health and cultural activities.

“President [Jacques] Chirac wants to pose a levy on flight tickets to help in the facilitation of cheap drugs to this country . more than 6 million people need drugs and only half have access to them,” Girardin added.

The French government’s development relations with South Africa date back to 1994.

Through the AFD, the French government, in partnership with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), has over the past five years supported projects worth more than R3.2-billion.

“AFD operations over the past 10 years have allowed for the financing of municipal infrastructure which has improved access to basic services,” Girardin said.

These have included municipal infrastructure projects such as housing and basic utilities; support for the productive sector; financing for small and micro enterprises; and skills and capacity building.

The AFD and the DBSA are currently setting up a joint project to facilitate R25-million in support of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).

The French minister confirmed that funds were available for “12 different infrastructure projects in the fields of information technology” through the partnership between the two developmental financial agencies.

“It seems clear that the partnership between France and South Africa spans across the entire African continent,” Girardin said, complimenting the DBSA, AFD and the African Development Bank for the efforts they were putting into development projects on the continent.

Source: BuaNews