23 August 2007
South Africa has agreed to help finance several major infrastructure projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including the construction of a new terminal at Kinshasa’s N’Djili International Airport and a deep sea port at Banana on the Atlantic coast.
South Africa has also agreed to provide funds for the rehabilitation and modernization of the Inga Hydro-electric Dam, one of the biggest projects to be implemented under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).
This emerged after the fourth session of the South Africa-DRC Binational Commission, co-chaired by South African President Thabo Mbeki and DRC President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa on Tuesday.
According to the DRC’s foreign ministry, Mbeki and Kabila conducted a review of existing co-operation agreements between the two countries, and signed new agreements in the fields of health and transport.
Areas covered by the existing SA-DRC agreements include telecommunications, mining and energy, infrastructure development and tourism.
South Africa Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Vincent Hlongwane told BuaNews that the new agreement on transport dealt mainly with how South Africa could help the DRC improve its airports and roads infrastructure.
“In terms of health, it is about collaboration in immunisation programmes and the secondment of some health officials, because the DRC has a malaria problem and South Africa has expertise in dealing with that,” Hlongwane said.
South Africa has been heavily involved in post-conflict reconstruction and development in the DRC, after being one of the key players in facilitating the DRC’s first democratic elections in July 2006.
South African organisations printed the ballots for the elections, distributed them across the vast, resource-rich nation and gave IT support during the counting process.
South Africa also has a peacekeeping contingent serving under the United Nations Mission in the DRC.
During President Kabila’s state visit to South Africa in June, both he and Mbeki pledged to strengthen the links between the two countries even further.