19 November 2013
Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane is leading a South African delegation at the third Africa-Arab summit which got under way in Kuwait City on Tuesday.
Over 60 leaders are attending the two-day summit organised by the African Union Commission and the League of Arab States.
Aiming at strengthening co-operation between the two regions, the summit will focus on trade and investment, infrastructure development, transport, energy, agriculture and food security, and private sector development and co-operation.
Other issues on the agenda are increasing the role of women in development, migration, and the need for peace and stability in the two regions.
International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said on Monday that South Africa’s participation in the summit was aimed at strengthening the continent’s participation in global issues as an equal partner, as well as gaining support for Africa’s development priorities.
“South Africa believes that the summit comes at an opportune time when the African continent is seized with redefining her destiny and role in the globalised world,” Monyela said in a statement.
The leaders are taking a mid-term review on the joint action plan, which covers a five-year period from 2011 to 2016, adopted at the previous summit in 2010. The Kuwait Declaration will be adopted at the end of the summit.
South Africa’s relationship with Arab states remains cordial, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates being the country’s biggest trading partners.
South African companies such as Sasol and MTN have large investments in the Middle East, including in some countries belonging to the Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC).
According to 2011 statistics, trade between the GCC and seven sub-Saharan African countries amounted to approximately US$16.7-billion. GCC-Africa two-way trade increased from about $2.7-billion in 1990 to about $6.8-billion in 2008.
Accompanying Chabane at the summit are senior officials from the Department of International Relations and the Department of Trade and Industry.