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.

The value of Ecuador’s indigenous knowledge is being recognized and many of the ancient traditions are being revived. Inti Raymi, one such tradition, has become an annual celebration of the Embassy of Ecuador in Pretoria.  Celebrated on June 21, it marks the winter solstice and is a colourful celebration giving thanks to mother Earth for her bounty.

Ecuador is one of the most naturally diverse countries in the world and is situated on the equator, after which it is named. A visitor will experience the Amazon rain forest, pristine Pacific beaches, culturally-rich cities with ancient architecture, the snow-capped Andes Mountains, and the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands are situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian coast. This archipelago and its immense marine reserve is known as the unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Its geographical location at the confluence of three ocean currents makes it one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt on tourism for many countries, and when you are able to, do visit Ecuador for a once in a lifetime experience.

With the global pandemic and the closing of borders, many Ecuadorians found themselves stranded in Southern Africa. The embassy worked tirelessly to support these compatriots and to eventually get them successfully repatriated back to their families. I would like to thank our partners as well as the South African government officials for their assistance during this challenging time.

We invite potential investors from the Southern African region to look at opportunities offered by Ecuador. We also look forward to further strengthening relations and cooperation with South Africa.
   
As I say my final goodbyes I would like to thank you all for your friendly engagements. My work would not have been possible without the cooperation from the people at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the ANC, Department of Science and Innovation, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Environment, the South African Human Rights Commission and The Diplomatic Society, among many others. Thank you.