/ 24 April 2008

SA, Mozambique provinces sign agreement

The provinces of Mpumalanga in South Africa and Maputo in Mozambique provinces signed a cooperation agreement on Thursday relating to economy, health and agriculture, the office of Premier Thabang Makwetla said.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) forms part of continued efforts to strengthen bilateral relationships. It was signed in Nelspruit by Makwetla and Maputo Governor Exa Telmina Pereira, and will remain in effect for five years.

In 2001, the countries signed a pact to increase trade and cultural relations, but in 2004, when Makwetla assumed office, he felt the agreement needed to be revised to include collaboration on education, culture, the struggle against malaria and economic development.

”A review of the MOU was undertaken. The other areas of cooperation … are transport and logistics; education, culture and sport; environmental conservation and tourism development, to mention a few,” said Makwetla.

He said other areas include agriculture, local government and the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

One of the agricultural projects will be focused on sugar-cane farming production where farmers from both provinces will be provided with a plot of land in Maputo to produce tonnage of sugar for commercial purposes.

Makwetla said a feasibility study is under way to determine the project’s viability.

”This project required substantial capital outlay and it was therefore referred to the African Development Bank to be registered as part of the Nepad [New Partnership for Africa’s Development] flagship project,” he said.

Commenting on 2010 preparations, Pereira said Mozambique is getting ready for the soccer tournament in areas that include tourism and infrastructure development.

”We are building a national stadium that we hope will serve as a training camp for some participating countries, and they are also increasing the hospitality capacity through reconstruction of additional hotels and lodges,” said Pereira.

He said the Nepad-initiated project will require significant funding and a feasibility study is in place to determine its viability. ”We are delighted to be at feasibility stage of this project,” he said.

Representatives from the two countries will meet at least once a year to evaluate progress and raise issues of common concern. — Sapa