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Seminar on Political and Economic ties between Uruguay and Africa
(l-r)Mr Milton Cea, Director CSI; Mrs Mechtild Stahr, CCUA Board Member; Mr Mateus Barros, Minister-Counsellor/Head of Trade Office, Angolan Embassy (Brazil); Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Head of Mission/Chargé d’Affaires, SA Embassy (Uruguay); Ambassador Fernando López Fabregat, Director General for International Economic Affairs, Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mrs Mary Kaakunga, Acting Head of Mission, Namibian Embassy (Brazil); Ambassador Sami Salem, Egyptian Ambassador (Uruguay); Mr Luis Taboada, President CCUA; Mr Sergio Bañales, Vice-President CCUA; Mr Álvaro Lecueder, Treasurer CCUA

02 OCTOBER 2012.

The Uruguay-Africa Chamber of Commerce (CCUA) and the South African Embassy, with the support of the Embassy of Egypt and the two non-resident Embassies of Angola and Namibia stationed in Brazil, co-hosted a very successful seminar “Political and Economic Ties with Africa” on 02 October in the Sheraton Hotel in Montevideo.

The Uruguay-Africa Chamber of Commerce is unique in the sense that it is the only chamber of commerce in Latin America between a single country and the whole of Africa. The timing of the creation of this Chamber could not be better and contributed to the success of the CCUA in becoming the acknowledged and authoritative platform for business and tourism interaction with Africa in the less than two years after its establishment. Given the global economic crisis Uruguay, and in fact a number of Latin American countries, are increasingly focussing on Africa. In the case of Uruguay it is concretely reflected by the upcoming visit of the Uruguayan Foreign Minister and a business delegation to Angola where the opening of Embassies in Luanda and in Montevideo will be finalized.   

There was consensus among participants that this latest seminar in the series co-hosted over the last two years with the CCUA and supported by other African Embassies, was very successful judged on the excellent presentation by the keynote speaker of the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry Ambassador Lopez Fabregat, Director General for International Economic Affairs; the impressive list of participants; and the active support of four African Embassies that also made presentations at the event.

The 50 selected participants included senior representatives of the powerful parastatals ANCAP (petroleum, refineries, alcohol and cement); OSE (waterworks); UTE (electricity); INIA (National Institute of Agricultural Research); and INAC (National Institute of meat products); the board and members of the CCUA; a variety of companies involved in and/or interested in expanding business ties into Africa; organized business; senior officials from the bilateral and economic divisions of  the Foreign Ministry; and  Heads and acting Heads of the Embassies of South Africa, Egypt, Angola and Namibia.

In his presentation Ambassador López Fabregat, who served in SA before, spelled out the longstanding Uruguayan involvement on the African Continent and repeated the increased focus of the current Uruguayan Government on Africa. He mentioned the upcoming visit to Angola and the decision to open an Embassy there and emphasized that the Foreign Ministry has instructions to investigate the further expansion of Uruguay into Africa, among other to consider re-opening Missions that have been closed before due to realities and financial constraints at the time.  In this regard, he also mentioned that the Uruguayan Embassy in Pretoria will be further strengthened by another political official.  There was a lively discussion following his presentation, also because many participants are part of the business delegation that will accompany the Foreign Minister on the Angolan visit (half of them members of the CCUA).

The Heads and acting Heads of the four participating African Embassies also made brief presentations on business opportunities in their respective countries. The new Egyptian Ambassador stated that Egypt is very keen to re-activate the visit of the Uruguayan Foreign Minister and a business delegation that had to be cancelled before due to the Arab Spring. In his closing remarks Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Head of Mission/Charge D’Affaires, emphasized the central role that the CCUA has come to play as a platform for interacting with Africa; the importance and value of the increased cooperation between resident and Non-resident African Embassies accredited to Uruguay; and to South Africa’s role on behalf of Africa in international fora such as IBSA and BRICS.

Over the past two years the Chamber has kept a positive focus on Africa in Uruguay with regular seminars addressed by a list of impressive speakers, including cabinet Ministers, businessmen, diplomats and academics.

A very important dimension is the active participation and support of resident and non-resident African Embassies accredited to Uruguay. This seminar was actively supported by four African Embassies and it is expected that more Embassies, that have already indicated their interest, will get involved in activities of the Chamber. The increased cooperation among African Embassies stationed in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina has been concretely demonstrated by the fact that Africa Day this year was co-hosted by the Chamber and all 14 African Embassies accredited to Uruguay – the first time ever. The other Embassies have expressed their appreciation for the facilitating role that the SA Embassy has been playing in the creation of this platform that is beneficial to all African Embassies accredited to Uruguay and the cause of the Continent. The excellent support received from the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry in all matters pertaining to the promotion of economic, political and cultural ties between Uruguay and Africa must also be acknowledged.




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