Address by President Zuma during South Africa-Burundi Business Forum on the occasion of State Visit to South Africa by President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Cape Town

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04 Nov 2014

Your Excellency, President Pierre Nkurunziza,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Yours Excellencies, Ambassadors,

Captains of Industry and Commerce,

Distinguished Guests,

It is a privilege and honour for me to make some remarks at this important South Africa-Burundi Business Forum meeting.

Let me take this opportunity to express, on behalf of my country, our sincere gratitude to His Excellency President Pierre Nkurunziza for accepting my invitation to undertake a State visit to South Africa.

Our two countries enjoy warm and friendly relations, and this state visit is definitely a meeting of brothers and sisters and friends.

Your Excellency,

Let me congratulate you and the Burundi people for choosing peace and for the progress you have made since the end of the civil war in 2005.

As you said during our discussions this morning, Burundi has begun a new struggle, the struggle against poverty. We share this struggle Your Excellency. We are also waging a war on poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Having worked together in the quest for peace and democracy in Burundi, we are now working together again in the quest for prosperity.

Earlier today, we signed a Joint Cooperation Commission agreement and added further areas of cooperation such as arts and culture, telecommunications and public works to name a few.

We therefore have to speed up processes to implement our agreements.

In our discussions earlier today, we agreed that boosting our economic relations will be high up on the agenda. We have a responsibility to create a better life for our peoples and as you said, together we must reap the dividends of peace. And that is through more meaningful economic cooperation.

We signed a Joint Cooperation Commission agreement earlier today. This important Agreement will enhance cooperation in sectors such as Agriculture, Arts and Culture, Commerce, Education, Politics, Defence, Sports, Mining, Women's Empowerment, Investment, Health, Science and Technology, Communications, Public Works and Finance.

We will be able to build on the work done already in these sectors and be able to steadily grow trade and investments.

Bilateral trade between our two countries has been slowly increasing from 47.7 million rand in 2007 to just over 52 million rand in 2013. The businesspeople from both countries should certainly improve these figures by further exploring opportunities in the two countries.

There are a few areas that have been identified for cooperation. We are happy that the Business Forum is making progress in finding for new avenues.

Burundi has considerable mining potential, which provides opportunities for cooperation, especially on exploration, technology exchange as well as funding or uptake of readily available projects.

South Africa is also looking for opportunities in infrastructure development, especially in energy, transport, construction, telecommunications, aerospace and related industries.

Undeniably, Burundi with its good climate, soils and abundant water, has massive potential in Agriculture and agro processing.

South Africa is keen to partner with Burundians in this sector.

Joint ventures can be forged in crop and livestock production, manufacturing and supply of agro-chemicals and other inputs, cultural and production practices as well as small scale processing technology to name a few.

Your Excellency

Burundi is a strategically positioned country, being a member of a number of regional economic communities and inter-governmental organizations including the East Africa Community. We see lots of opportunities that will arise from this location.

Your Excellency, there are many opportunities that have been identified. It is clear that we have not even begun to exploit all possibilities in economic relations between the two countries.

We have come a long way. We were in the trenches together, fighting for peace and democracy. Now the time is ripe for Burundi and South Africa to start a new and meaningful chapter of economic cooperation.

We sincerely hope that this Forum will deliver concrete results in the form of new investments and trade partnerships in key areas of opportunities.

Mr President, let me reiterate how happy we are to host you and your distinguished delegation.

We look forward to a most successful visit and positive outcomes.

I thank you.

Website: www.thepresidency.gov.za