Over 60 leaders are expected to take part in the Africa-Arab Summit, which will be a platform for the two regions to bolster cooperation.
Held under the theme, Partners in Development and Investment, the summit was preceded by a ministerial meeting on 17 November. The meeting will be held in the City of Kuwait, and is co-organised with the African Union Commission and the League of Arab States.
It will place focus on economic matters, with a special emphasis on trade and investment, infrastructure development, transport, energy, communications, agriculture and food security, private sector development and cooperation, enhancing the role of women in development, migration, politics, peace and security.
International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela on Monday said South Africa’s participation in the summit was premised on the African Union’s strategic objective of ensuring that all global partnerships with Africa should support the African development priorities, while also strengthening Africa’s participation in global affairs as an equal partner.
“As such, South Africa will participate in this summit as a member of the African Union and the country 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,” said Monyela.
At the summit, leaders will undertake a mid-term review on the Joint Action Plan (2011-2016), which was adopted at the second Africa-Arab Summit in 2010. They will also adopt the Kuwait Declaration.
Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, will lead the South African delegation to this year’s summit.
He will be representing President Jacob Zuma and will be supported by senior officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Department of Trade and Industry.
South Africa’s relationship with the Arab States remains cordial, with on-going engagements at various political and economic levels that are anchored by the strategic objective of strengthening South-South relations.
South Africa has strong relations with the Arab nations, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates being the biggest trading partners.
South African companies such as SASOL and MTN have large investments in the Middle East, including in some of the Cooperation 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 US$2.7 billion in 1990 to about US$6.8 billion in 2008.