19 November 2012
Ireland views Africa as a future economic giant, and South Africa as a key gateway to the continent, visiting Irish Trade and Development Minister Joe Costello told journalists in Cape Town on Thursday.
Costello last week led the largest ever Irish trade mission – a group of 57 business leaders – to South Africa.
Speaking at a joint media briefing with South African Deputy International Relations Minister Marius Fransman, Costello said Ireland wanted to improve economic, investment and social ties with South Africa.
He said that the overall Irish economic investment in South Africa was substantial. Presently, 180 Irish companies were doing business in South Africa. Last year, 25 000 Irish tourists arrived in South Africa.
“Yesterday I announced a R500-million investment by an Irish company in wind and solar farms, as well as an investment in Vodacom. We want to see investment as a two-way process,” Costello added.
Earlier, Costello and Fransman held talks under the auspices of the South African-Ireland Partnership Forum, established in 2004 to stimulate meaningful cooperation between the two countries.
Fransman said South Africa believed its partnership with Ireland should be to the advantage of itself, the Southern African Development Community, as well as Africa.
South Africa, he said, would engage Ireland on energy and climate change, a phenomenon that would no doubt affect agriculture in Africa.
Earlier last week, Ireland gained a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“We will reflect with Ireland on some of the difficult challenges facing the world. Your seat will advance the interest of human rights in the world,” said Fransman.
South Africa also congratulated Ireland on its forthcoming assumption of the European Union (EU) presidency in January.
The two ministers agreed that the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment remained acute in South Africa. They were also concerned about the food crisis in Lesotho and its potential to cause a humanitarian crisis, and committed to helping Lesotho ease its food crisis.
Ireland will also be assisting South Africa with a skills development programme, which will include the establishment of a fellowship programme to help South Africans who want to conduct post-graduate studies in Ireland.