30 August 2013
President Jacob Zuma hinted on Thursday at the possibility of South Africa entering economic partnerships with the tiny African island country of Sao Tome and Principe, which is poised to profit from the commercial exploitation of large offshore reserves of oil.
Zuma was addressing journalists in Pretoria after holding discussions with Sao Tome and Principe President Manuel Pinto Da Costa, who is on a state visit to South Africa.
Zuma was accompanied in the talks by a large contingent of his ministers, including Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
One of Africa’s smallest countries, Sao Tome and Principe consists of two islands of volcanic origin and a number of smaller islets. It is one of the leading cocoa producers in the world. The government has been encouraging economic diversification and is set to exploit the rich reserves of oil which are thought to lie off the country’s coast.
Zuma described the relationship between South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe as one borne out of similar struggles for liberation in both countries.
Deputy President Kgalama Motlanthe visited the small island in 2011, during which several agreements were signed in the areas of energy, water and cooperation. In April this year, a joint technical team from the Department of Water Affairs and Rand Water visited Sao Tome and Principe to see South Africa could do to provide water treatment support.
They identified infrastructure refurbishment, provision of rainwater harvesting tanks and knowledge sharing on waste water management as critical areas of intervention.
“We support the kind of investments which seek to contribute to the sustainable development of the region and the continent as a whole,” Zuma said. “We have also agreed to take further our cooperation, particularly on people-to-people exchanges. We are also keen to promote tourism and other areas of economic cooperation.”
Da Costa said economic cooperation with South Africa was crucial for his country. He said Sao Tome and Principe was open to any economic cooperation with South Africa and other exclusive economic zones.
“I will leave this country knowing that there is solid engagement to strengthen our cooperation. Our meeting here will serve as a foundation of future cooperation and development, which I hope will be of development for the two countries,” Da Costa said.