President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa concluded a successful visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where he co-chaired the Heads of State and Government segment of the 12th session of the DRC-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) with President Félix Tshisekedi. The BNC, held on July 6, 2023, at the Palais de la Nation, marked a renewed commitment by both countries to enhance and nurture their existing bilateral trade and political relations.
The BNC, a culmination of several meetings, including the Senior Official meeting on July 1-3, 2023, and the Ministerial Sectoral meeting on July 4-5, 2023, was conducted through a structured framework that includes four Sectoral Committees: Political and Governance Sectoral Commission; Defence and Security Sectoral Commission; Economy, Finance, and Infrastructure Sectoral Commission; and Social and Humanitarian Sectoral Commission.
During the BNC, President Ramaphosa and President Tshisekedi acknowledged the existence of thirty-eight Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and welcomed the 81 decisions taken during the Ministerial session. Both leaders directed relevant Ministers to conclude the review of these legal instruments by the end of October 2023 and accelerate the implementation of all agreements. The wide-ranging legal instruments cover areas such as Agriculture, Defence, Trade and Investment, Health, Police, Energy, Public Service and Administration, Cooperative Governance, Transport, Diplomatic Cooperation, Humanitarian Support, and Immigration.
In addition to discussing bilateral trade and political matters, the Heads of State and Government also appraised each other on economic, political, and security situations in the region, with a particular focus on the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the outcomes of the Quadripartite Summit held on June 27, 2023, in Luanda, under the auspices of the African Union.
The leaders also addressed global issues of mutual interest, emphasizing the need for dialogue and negotiation to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the devastating conflict in Sudan. They called on the parties involved to cease hostilities permanently and work towards peace and security, aligning with the objectives of the African Union and the United Nations to silence guns across the globe.
Furthermore, a Business Forum was held on the sidelines of the BNC session, exploring opportunities for enhanced trade, investment, and economic cooperation between the two countries. The forum specifically focused on key sectors, including Agriculture & Agro-processing, Energy & Infrastructure, Health & Pharmaceuticals, and Mining.
To boost economic cooperation, the Heads of State and Government instructed the respective Ministers of Trade to address any identified impediments that hinder trade and investment between South Africa and the DRC. One of the projects of strategic importance discussed was the Grand INGA Hydropower Project, which aims to jointly develop the potential of the Congo River to generate over 40,000 Mega Watts (MW) of hydropower.
Regarding immigration, the leaders agreed that further consultations would be necessary to establish a mutually favorable visa regime and finalize relevant modalities.
President Ramaphosa extended an invitation to President Tshisekedi to attend the 13th Session of the BNC in South Africa, with the specific date to be agreed upon through diplomatic channels.
The President’s delegation during the visit included Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation; State Security; Defence and Military Veterans; Trade, Industry, and Competition; Police; Mineral Resources and Energy; Transport; Home Affairs; and Social Development.
The successful conclusion of the 12th Bi-National Commission reaffirms the commitment of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo to strengthen their bilateral ties, promote economic cooperation, and address regional and global challenges together.