29 March 2012
President Jacob Zuma met with the presidents of Russia and Brazil on the margins of the BRICS summit in Delhi, India on Wednesday, urging both countries to become involved in realising South Africa’s new infrastructure plan.
The plan, announced during Zuma’s State of the Nation address in February, includes geographically focused infrastructure projects cutting across rail, road, water, ports and logistics.
The Presidency said in a statement that, during his talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Zuma expressed interest in co-operating with Russia on engineering, especially in training South Africans in Russia.
Co-operation in mining
Zuma also discussed possible Russia-South African co-operation in mining, especially on the operation of an iron-ore rail line between Sishen in the Northern Cape and Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape.
“President Zuma reiterated the commitment he made during his state visit to Russia in August 2010 to strengthen co-operation on mining and mineral resource beneficiation in South Africa and Africa,” the Presidency said.
The South African government adopted a minerals beneficiation strategy in 2011, and the implementation plans are being finalised for key value chains, including steel, energy, jewellery and platinum group metals.
Construction of nuclear plants
According to the Presidency, Russia has expressed interest in co-operating with South Africa in the construction of nuclear power plants. South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan indicates that nuclear power should form an important part of the country’s energy mix by 2030, with the first plant to come online as early as 2023.
The procurement and bidding processes for South Africa’s planned nuclear plants are expected to begin later this year.
The Presidency said an invitation would be extended to incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin to undertake a state visit to South Africa.
Co-operation in transport, construction, finance
In his meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Zuma welcomed the growth in trade relations between South Africa and Brazil, and pushed for further co-operation in rail, road, transport and logistics infrastructure.
“We are very happy with the partnership between Airports Company South Africa and INVEPAR of Brazil to run Brazil’s most prominent international airport of Guarulhos for the next 20 years,” Zuma said.
“More such ventures and opportunities could be created between South Africa and Brazil, to the benefit of both countries’ industries.
“We are also happy that Brazil’s largest construction company, Odebrecht, is due to establish an office in South Africa,” Zuma said. “This opens up possibilities for greater private sector collaboration.”
Zuma also noted the growing co-operation in the financial sector, with the Development Bank of Southern Africa having established a working relationship with its Brazilian equivalent, BNDES.
Diversifying SA’s energy mix
South Africa also seeks co-operation with Brazil in energy, both in terms of sourcing and in energy mix, to help diversify the country’s energy supply.
Brazil boasts some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, and is the second-largest producer of ethanol in the world.
“Brazil also offered to co-operate with South Africa in social development issues, especially on the fight against hunger as well as on defence matters,” the Presidency said.
On Thursday, Zuma will join Rousseff, Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minster Manmohan Singh in deliberations under the theme “BRICS partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity”.