20 October 2015
President Jacob Zuma has announced that following a working visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last week, the two countries are working together to strengthen relationships and build new economic partnerships.
“We have decided that the next decade of our Bi-National Commission (BNC) should intensify the implementation of joint economic projects, in particular the Grand Inga Hydropower Project, whose founding treaty was signed on 30 October 2013,’ Zuma said yesterday.
The visit and the results of the relationship with the DRC fulfil a fundamental pillar of South Africa’s National Development Plan, that of assuring a stronger South African presence in Africa and the world.
Earlier last week, Zuma co-chaired the ninth session of the BNC with his counterpart, President Joseph Kabila of the DRC.
During the session, the two presidents reviewed progress made on bilateral programmes during the first decade of the Bi-National Commission. These included co-operation projects in the fields of politics and governance; defence and security; economy, finance and infrastructure; as well as social and humanitarian affairs.
Bilateral trade increased from R11-billion in 2012 to R13-billion in 2014. South Africa is the DRC’s biggest supplier of foreign goods and services, providing more than 20% of the country’s total imports.
Speaking in the capital Kinshasa, Zuma pledged support for an emerging DRC, adding: “This is not the DRC of 2004. (The country is) emerging from a prolonged conflict and civil strife, (and) required support and solidarity. South Africa has committed and pledged to accompany and walk with the government and the people of this great nation, and now, a decade later, we can look back with deserved pride considering the noticeable achievements that we have made.”
Over the next 10 years, Zuma said, economic relations in the areas of trade, industrialisation and infrastructure development would be more prominent than they were now. “We have urged the responsible ministries and departments to finalise all outstanding issues in order to pave the way for the construction of this Pan- African flagship project,” he added.
During last week’s visit, the South African leader witnessed the signing of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement by the ministers responsible for transport. The agreement will enable the two countries to facilitate movement of people and expand aviation co-operation. South Africa and the DRC maintain good diplomatic and political relations.
Both leaders urged authorities in charge of the various projects in both countries to do their best to “speed up the process with a view to resolving all the outstanding issues. in order to clear the way for carrying out this pan-African project”.
One of the projects highlighted during the visit that will enjoy a boost from the ongoing relationship is the multibillion-dollar Inga 3 dam project, on the Congo River. Africa’s most powerful river, it is perfect for hydro-energy generation.
The Inga 3 Basse Chute project near Matadi will divert the river’s waters into a 12km channel and passing through a 100m hydropower dam in the Bundi Valley before releasing the water back into the river. The project is expected to generate 4 800 megawatts of power, equivalent to the output of three third-generation nuclear reactors, and boost power supplies to a region starved of electricity.
“This project will help turn on the switch to a brighter future for Congo, and the continent,” Zuma said.