Enhanced cooperation through the South African German Binational Commission 2016
On November 16, the 9th session of the South African German Binational Commission took place in Berlin. The delegations were headed by South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Several ministers and high-ranking officials came together in eight working groups to strengthen their cooperation and lay out common plans for the future. The main fields of collaboration include foreign and security policy, renewable energy, environment and climate, education and vocational training, development cooperation, science and technology, employment and social affairs as well as culture.
Photo: (l-r) Ambassador Stone Sizani of South Africa to Germany, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, State Secretary Dr Markus Ederer and Ambassador Walter Lindner of Germany in South Africa. Yolande Snyman DIRCO
The German government offered to provide another 314 million euro for bilateral technical and financial cooperation as part of the ongoing development cooperation. In the margins of the Binational Commission 70 representatives from South African and German businesses met to discuss business opportunities.
Foreign and Security Policy
In the Foreign and Security Policy Committee the topic of migration was high on the agenda. Germany and South Africa are planning to establish a structured dialogue about migration at government expert level to benefit from each other’s experiences. Both sides agreed to even more intense communication as regards the upcoming German G20 presidency, as the next summit of the 20 most important industrialized and emerging countries will focus on the African continent.
Economy and Energy
In the Economy and Energy Committee both sides agreed to intensify efforts to strengthen bilateral economic relations. With 15 billion Euro, trade and investment were on a record high in 2015, supporting the fact that South Africa is still the most important trading partner for Germany on the African continent. Steinmeier said: “I am very satisfied that the efforts of businesses are matched by our governmental engagement, with focus on education and training […] as the engine of our relations is the economy.”
Today, 600 German companies give work to 100,000 people in South Africa. Both sides further agreed to make efforts to boost South Africa’s exports to Germany.
Both countries also welcomed the excellent cooperation within the German-South African Energy Partnership to promote the electricity production from renewable energy sources. In this context, the South African government has been invited to attend the annual Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue which will take place in March 2017.
Renewable energies are also an important topic of the Committee of Development Cooperation. Germany committed to continued support in form of an interest-subsidized loan of up to 100 million Euro for the integration of renewable energies to the South African national electricity grid. HIV/AIDS prevention,Technical and Vocational Training and Skills Development as well as Governance and Public Administration will continue to be areas of cooperation in which Germany will proceed invest.
The South African delegation invited their German counterparts to South Africa for the next meeting of the Germany-South Africa Binational Commission in 2018.
German Embassy Pretoria, South Africa