Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is visiting South Africa from February 28 to March 2.
South Africa is a major economic partner of France; it shares with us the values of tolerance, democracy and attachment to multilateralism, which our diplomatic services promote together. This multi-faceted partnership will be central to the “Forum for Political Dialogue” discussions that Jean-Yves Le Drian will co-chair on February 28 in Pretoria together with his counterpart, Lindiwe Sisulu. The ministers will take stock of our bilateral relations, notably with respect to development cooperation, education, culture, research and economic relations. Key international issues will also be discussed – the fight against global warming, peace and security – regarding which France would like to strengthen its dialogue with South Africa, whether at the UN Security Council, within the framework of the French presidency of the G7, or in other forums.
South Africa is our largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa (€2.9 billion in trade in 2017, with a surplus of almost €700 million). 400 French firms, from large groups to SMEs and start-ups, operate in all sectors and employ more than 37,000 people in the country.
Jean-Yves Le Drian will meet in Pretoria with leaders of French firms established in South Africa and a delegation of SMEs exploring business opportunities in the region. He will visit the Saint-Gobain plant in Germiston, which is one of the largest French facilities in South Africa in terms of jobs (1500) and which is developing a unique training program for the plant’s neighboring communities. In Cape Town, he will visit the start-up Jumo, supported by the French Development Agency, which is developing a digital platform to provide micro-credit: Almost 10 million people in Africa and Asia have already benefited from its services.
Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit the NGO “Waves for Change” in Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, which works with young people from South Africa’s coastal communities. France lends support, through an AFD grant, to this NGO which helps disadvantaged populations in South African civil society.
Several agreements will be signed during this ministerial visit, including a cooperation agreement on education, a letter of intent on co-financing Master’s-level scholarships, and an agreement between the French Space Agency (CNES, Centre national d’études spatiales) and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Also to be signed: a memorandum of understanding between the national park of La Réunion and national parks in South Africa (SANParks), which will help preserve the unique biodiversity of both our countries, as well as a protocol of cooperation on sharks, signed by two specialized institutions – the Resource and Support Center (CRA, Centre de ressources et d’appui) of La Réunion and the Shark Board of KwaZulu-Natal.
Finally, the minister will visit the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the leading institution of its kind on the continent, where he will introduce Africa 2020, the African cultural season organized by France. And during a special visit to Robben Island, the minister will pay tribute to the memory of Nelson Mandela, who was held on this prison island for 18 years with several of his comrades.