Ecuador – land of opportunities

By Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador of Ecuador to South Africa

5 October 2020

Time sure does fly and after five years in beautiful South Africa, it is time to bid it farewell.  As the first female ambassador of Ecuador to South Africa it has been an honor and a privilege to serve my country in this region of the world.

Photo: Ambassador Soledad Cordova meeting with Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Agency

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down activity this year, the friendly relations between Ecuador and South Africa have grown encompassing many sectors including in the fields of mining, environment, defence, education, indigenous knowledge systems, science and technology and space exploration.

Representing Ecuador in a number of Southern African countries, a Cooperation Agreement was signed with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) with the aim strengthening South-South cooperation.

Trade and investment remains a high priority on the embassy’s agenda and in this regard opportunities were explored to showcase products of Ecuador. It is said to have the best cocoa in the world and the embassy hosted various events where guests had the opportunity to taste coffee and chocolates from Ecuador. The famous hat woven from toquilla straw, made famous by workers on the Panama Canal, was declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2012.

Hiking to Ingeli Mountains in honour of OR Tambo

by HRH Stella Sigcau

5 October 2020

The Mbizana Community Hiking Club whose main objective it is to promote the preservation of environmental heritage as well as cultural and sustainable tourism, plans to hike to the Ingeli Mountains in honour of Oliver Reginald Tambo on 16 October 2020.

October was declared  the OR Tambo month in South Africa to honour his legacy and contribution to the liberation struggle of South Africa.  Mbizana remains one of the environmental endowed parts of the Mpondo Kingdom. It is also home to the struggle icon and longest serving ANC President (1967- 1991) Oliver Reginald Tambo  who was born on 27 October 1917 in Nkantolo village, overlooking the Ingeli Mountains which are 20 kilometres outside Mbizana, in the Mpondo Kingdom in theEastern Cape.

Change can happen against all odds

German Unity Day

3 October 2020

On the 9th of November 1989 the world was irreversibly changed when the Berlin Wall came down and everything seemed possible. It was a day marked by jubilation, not only in Germany but the world over. At the same time in South Africa apartheid was collapsing and three months later, in February 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison. “These events marked the moment in history when both our countries turned from oppression to freedom, from injustice to democracy, from despair to hope,” said Dr Martin Schäfer, Ambassador of Germany to South Africa at the Deutschland Fest that took place in 2019.

Lufthansa was the first airline to bring tourists to South Africa after the easing of lockdown restrictions (image: Pixabay)

Today marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the entire world a curveball. Ambassador Schäfer said he would have loved to celebrate 30 years of peace, freedom and unity with Germans and German friends in South Africa, as has been the case every other year, but the pandemic and restrictions have made this impossible.

While South Africa has amongst the highest Covid-19 infections in the world, its mortality rate is relatively low, but with the hard lockdown many livelihoods have been negatively affected. Germany, and indeed Schäfer, has been resolute in providing South Africa with much needed assistance in this very difficult time. Recently, and in the build up to the German national day, Germany provided R100 million for food relief and shelter for those in need on the Cape Flats.

Guinea an Attractive Investment Destination

2 October 2020

Statement by Her Excellency Mrs  Kaba Hawa Diakite, Ambassador Extraordinairy and Plenipotentiary of Guinea to the Republic of South Africa on the occasion of the National Independence Day of the Republic of Guinea

Honorable Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa;
Members of the South African Government,
Your Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic and Consular Missions and Representatives of International Organisations accredited to the Republic of South Africa;
Leaders of  the Guinean Community in the countries of our jurisdiction ;
Fellow Guineans ;
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to express a renewned sense of national pride on this solemn occasion which marks the 62nd anniversary of the independence of our great country, Guinea.

An independence acquired at the cost of bloodshed, patriotism and bravery of the valiant people of Guinea. We pay tribute to our great leaders who resisted colonial domination and fought for our liberation including late Comrade Ahmed Sékou TOURE, first President of the country, Mr. Saïfoulaye DIALLO, Mrs. Hadja Mafory BANGOURA, Mr. Lansana BEAVOGUI.

Through their fight, they could restore our lost human dignity and freedom and gave us the strength as a people to independently determine our future.

Indeed, after 60 years of colonisation, the Republic of Guinea was the first country in the French-speaking Subsaharan Africa to cast a negative vote against colonialism during the historic referendum of September 28, 1958, through which our rightful status as an independent sovereign nation was acquired.

Greece: Refugee life on the other side of the highway

The fire at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos in the Aegean has raised questions once more about the plight of the 24,000 refugees seeking a way into Europe.

by Greg Mills, Director, The Brenthurst Foundation

An image taken with a drone shows the refugee camp of Moria, on Lesvos island, Greece, 22 January 2020. At the camp, which is meant to host 2,500 migrants and refugees, now houses more than 20,000 people in poor conditions. The entire island of Lesvos among with Chios and Samos held a 24-hour strike on 22 January to protest the migration situation as thousands of asylum seekers are stranded there in unbearable conditions and low temperatures. EPA-EFE/DIMITRIS TOSIDIS

1 October 2020

It’s a slog up the steep hill from the quayside shops at the port of Samos to the Vathy camp on the slopes above the town. The sun is baking, the road seeming to stick to the tyres of my bike as I ground my way past women and children lugging water, cans, food and other supplies to the camp.

The facility lies on the other side of the double-lane highway linking the island’s eponymous port over a series of steep mountains, I was warned, to the more famous village of Pythagorio on the southern coast, the birthplace of the philosopher-mathematician. The Vathy camp opened in early 2016 on the site of a former military base, conveniently close to a major hospital.

That year saw the peak, so far, of the refugee wave.

More than a million migrants arrived in Europe from Africa and the Middle East in 2015, nearly half from Syria. Of the total, 850,000 landed on the Greek islands.

Greece’s geography makes it the gateway to the European Union, a short journey from mainland Turkey which today is, according to the UN, host to the world’s largest refugee population, some four million people, of which 3.6 million are Syrian.

Samos is the closest Greek island to Turkey, just over a kilometre away across the Mycale Strait. In just three months in 2015/16 more than 100,000 refugees landed on Samos, many surviving perilous passages on exposed inflatables.

Creating Marine Awareness

1 October 2020

October is National Marine Month in South Africa and it creates awareness of South Africa's marine and coastal environments and the benefits that our oceans bring to our nation.

(Image: Pixabay)

South Africa is nestled between two currents:

  • -the warm Agulhas Current with rich ocean biodiversity, but not a large fish stocks
  • -the cold Benguela system that supports large fisheries such as those focused on the small pelagic (anchovy and sardine) and the demersal (hake) stocks.
  • These currents, in addition to the cold southern oceans, are key drivers of South Africa climate and rainfall conditions.

South Africa's different climatic zones, with its different biodiversities, agricultural and economic activities, are shaped by the availability of one of our scarcest resources, namely fresh water.

Rainfall patterns dictate many activities as it is vital to defining natural habitats and ecosystems. Oceans, being the primary producer of moisture to the atmosphere that eventually produces rain over the country, are therefore playing a critical role in shaping the socio-economic activities in our land.

South Africa gradually reopens borders

30 September 2020

Guided by the World Health Organisation’s regulations, South Africa will gradually re-open some its international borders from 1 October 2020 after a six-month closure to manage COVID-19 infection rates.

Business and some leisure travel will take precedence as the country welcomes international travellers in a staggered approach.

“Travellers intending to visit the country will be expected to produce a PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa.

“This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test,” said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.

The Minister - together with her colleagues from the Home Affairs, Transport and Tourism departments - fleshed out details for international travel on Wednesday, during a briefing on the easing of international travel restrictions.

The briefing comes as South Africa moved to alert level 1 on 21 September 2020 as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Celebrating the 71st Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China

29 September 2020

The embassy of the People's Repubilc of China in South Africa hosted a virtual reception to celebrate the 71st Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Photo: Ambassador-designate of China, Mr Chen Xiaodong

The program included remarks by newly arrived Ambassador-designate of China, Mr Chen Xiaodong and South African Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr. Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan. Messages of congratulations from many South African friends of China as well as Chinese living and working in South Africa were flighted. The program also included the embassy staff performing the Jerusalema, cultural Chinese dance, tai-chi, calligraphy and cooking demonstrations.  

Ambassador-designate Chen Xiaodong previously served as Assistant Foreign Minister covering Africa, where he made many trips to South Africa and other African countries and saw the fast and all-round progress of China-South Africa and China-Africa relations.

The virtual reception was a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Chen said that our world is changing in profound ways, compounded by a pandemic unseen in a century. "Mankind faces severe challenges and difficult choices in 2020."

SA Celebrates World Tourism Day with a Commitment to Reignite Domestic Travel Markets

27 September 2020

South Africa joined the globe in celebrating World Tourism Day today with festivities at Maropeng’s Cradle of Humankind in the western corridor of the Gauteng Province.

World Tourism Day is a United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) initiative observed annually on 27 September to highlight the sector’s contribution to the socio–economic development of nations, and the advancement of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Clarens, Free State, South Africa (File photo)

Themed ‘Rural Development and Tourism,’ the celebrations highlighted the significant role the domestic tourism market will play in reigniting the sector, especially in spearheading tourism in lesser-visited rural communities in all nine provinces.

“Today’s celebration is a testament that the tourism industry is able to host an event in a safe manner under the current Covid- 19 pandemic.”

“As we navigate a path to recovery, and gradually re-open our borders to safely welcome international visitors, we urge South Africans to travel and explore their country responsibly,” said Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

The tourism industry is one of the largest economic sectors in the world – creating jobs, driving exports and generating prosperous local economies. According to the UNWTO, the industry contributed 10.4% to the global GDP and created 319 million jobs in 2018.

Commitment to Build Back Better at Ministerial Meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism

25 September 2020

Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, on the occasion of the Ministerial Meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism themed: “Our Commitment and Contribution to Building Back Better”

South Africa welcomes this discussion and hopes all of us will continue to ensure our global collaboration does serve the greater good.

Minister Pandor participating in a virtual Ministerial Meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism (Photo: Jacoline Schoonees)

Africa has been severely impacted by the pandemic and gains made over many decades have been reversed. Our Alliance should devote time in the future to devising effective support measures to assist the most vulnerable. African countries have welcomed the debt stand still that has been agreed for 6 months of this year.

Much more relief and support is required for our economies to recover, for jobs to be created and for new industries.

Roundtable Devoted to Turkmenistan’s 25th Anniversary of Neutrality held in Brussels

On Friday 25 September, the Tangla Hotel in Brussels hosted a high-level roundtable on the topic of “Constructive Dialogue for Peace and Sustainable Development”, held on the auspicious occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan.

In his intervention, H.E. Tchary Atayev, Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the EU, discussed the historical background and distinguishing features of Turkmenistan’s neutrality, and outlined the international initiatives being undertaken by Turkmenistan for regional and global peace, security, stability and development.

Following Ambassador Atayev’s speech, representatives from the Energy Charter, the Embassy of Afghanistan, the European Institutions, the European Institute for Asian Studies and Diplomatic World Institute took the floor and offered their perspectives on, among other topics, the implications of Turkmenistan’s neutrality status for relations with the European Union and its Member States (including increased trade relations); regional relations; solving the conflict in Afghanistan; engagement with the Energy Charter Treaty and strengthening connectivity across Eurasia.

Reshaping a new Regional Integration: The SAARC and SADC Nations

By Srimal Fernando and Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri

21 September 2020

Southern African and South Asian nations have resorted to the fact that one of the most significant methods for accomplishing a more prominent economic autonomy is through regional integration of economies. Cultivating economic discretion between the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) is one of the key foreign policy objectives that both regional alliances can cooperate on within the following decade.

South Africa and India would thus be able to exercise a significant and persuasive foreign policy focus in connecting these two regions.  From the governments' side, the essential enquiries rotate around the viability of its current strategies.

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