Thursday, October 4, 2018

Pretoria: A technical team is set to visit the country to assess the country’s energy sector, following the conclusion of the eighth South Africa-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission (JEC).

This follows Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies’s return from the session in Saudi Arabia, which he co-chaired with his Saudi counterpart, the Minister of Commerce and Investment, Dr Majed Abdullah Alkasabi, in the capital Riyadh.

The Minister was also in the capital to follow up on Saudi Arabia’s $10 billion investment pledge. The pledge was made during President Ramaphosa’s State visit to the Middle Eastern country in July.

During that State visit, Saudi Arabia pledged to invest $10 billion in South Africa’s energy, defence and agricultural sectors.

“A key outcome was encouraging discussions around investment in the energy sector by Saudi Arabia into South Africa. Saudi Arabia is keen to collaborate with South Africa in developing its mining sector and is keen to work with South Africa in this regard.

“According to Minister Davies, progress was made in advancing discussions on investment in the energy sector in line with the investment pledge of $10 billion by Saudi Arabia. A technical team on energy will be visiting South Africa to conduct a feasibility shortly in accordance with the $10 billion pledge,” said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) on Wednesday.

The JEC reached an agreement to cooperate on various areas ranging from energy, industry, mineral resources and finance, among others.

An agreement was also reached to cooperate on social areas including education, sport, health and labour.

In the area of energy, an agreement was reached to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on renewables between the two countries.

The agreement will advance closer cooperation and exchange of expertise in this field. ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia already has invested in a solar plant in Bokpoort, Northern Cape, which is operational.

The company, which is a developer, investor, co-owner and operator of a portfolio of power generation and desalinated water production plants, is at an advanced stage of building another renewable energy plant in the Eastern Cape.

The investment relationship between South Africa and Saudi Arabia was further strengthened by the signing of an investment cooperation agreement between Invest South Africa and Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

The agreement provides a framework for investment cooperation and will advance two-way investment. It further provides a mechanism to resolve any obstacles that might hinder investment projects.

During his visit, the Minister also addressed a South Africa-Saudi Arabia Business Forum that was hosted by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce.

His programme in Saudi Arabia also included a number of bilateral meetings with relevant Saudi Ministries and investors such as ACWA Power.

Trade relations

The dti said South Africa and Saudi Arabia maintain good political and economic relations and cooperate in a number of fields with Saudi Arabia continuing to be the country’s strategic partner in the Middle East region.

Globally, Saudi Arabia is among South Africa’s top five import partners, largely due to the amount of the oil imported from the Kingdom. – SAnews.gov.za

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