Bua Briefs 11 of 2010

2 September 2010

65th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

The 65th session of the UNGA will be held in New York under the theme "Reaffirming the Central Role of the United Nations in Global Governance". The General Assembly is an important global event used by many countries to present their positions on a number of issues that pertain to the UN system. For South Africa, the 65th session is an opportunity to lobby and present our bid to be elected to the non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The UNGA will also convene a Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in New York from 20 to 22 September 2010, with the primary objective of accelerating progress towards the attainment of all MDGs by 2015.

South Africa remains committed to the consolidation of the African Agenda and supports multilateral and bilateral cooperation, with a view to ensuring a better Africa and a better world for all who live in it

  • Since 1994, South Africa has contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security, through among other things, active participation in UN and regional peacekeeping missions and mediation efforts. South Africa previously served on the UNSC from 2007 to 2008 and is a member of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (2010 to 2011).
  • South Africa has made and will continue to make a significant contribution to deepening the relationship and cooperation between the UNSC and the AU and will encourage cooperation with other regional organisations.
  • South Africa served its first-ever term on the UNSC from 2007 to 2008 and brought a strong reputation and track record as an “agent of change”, after its chairing of the Non-Aligned Movement, Commonwealth, AU and the G77 and China.
  • We aim to once again make a substantive and positive contribution to the work of the UNSC and the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security.

South Africa is committed to the reform of institutions of global governance, including the comprehensive reform of the UN, which includes the expansion of the UNSC, with a view to achieving sustainable global socio-economic and political development

  • South Africa supports the promotion of equal distribution of power and influence in the global political and economic system, with a belief in rules-based multilateralism; the primacy of the UN in global security matters; sustainable development; free and fair trade; and an equitable international economic order.
  • We remain committed to the strengthening of continental institutions, which are critical in responding to the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment as well as peace, security and stability on the continent.
  • South Africa believes the developed north has a great responsibility to provide technology and additional support to developed countries as they aim to redress their economic and social challenges.
  • South Africa supports the legitimacy of all organs of the UN and therefore believes that line-function issues, including among other things, human rights, economic matters and international peace and security, should be dealt with by the appropriate forum.

The MDGs must be linked to development goals and targets to ensure synergy and an integrated approach in achieving the goals

  • The conception of the MDGs fit together with the development approach that had already been adopted by the South African Government. South Africa’s development approach is embedded on the constitutional provision that put emphasis on the value of respect for human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and basic freedoms.
  • South Africa has striven to improve the lives of the people living in poverty, considering that between 2002 and 2008, considerable progress was achieved in the provision of social security grants, access to water and sanitation and provision of electricity, especially to the historically marginalised groups.
  • Most South African children of the ages seven to 13 years are receiving primary education and the country will continue to make significant advances in achieving universal access to primary education.
  • To address the fault lines of the past, the 2010 SA Country Report process was designed to be widely consultative to promote country ownership of the process and the report. Government partnered with various stakeholders and the UN Development Programme to achieve “domestication” of MDGs in the country by ensuring that globally designed targets and indicators are in line with South African reality.

The UNGA presents a unique opportunity for the international community to work together to achieve the UN MDGs

  • South Africa encourages international cooperation to achieve the targets, especially in light of the impact that recent global economic events have had on developing countries.
  • The UN and its member states must play a role in the ongoing International discussion on reforming and strengthening the international financial and economic system and architecture.
  • The need for a speedy implementation of the international resolutions, in particular the deployment of resources to salvage vulnerable economies, cannot be over-emphasised.
  • Developed countries must also live up to their promises by eliminating trade-distorting agricultural subsidies and finally giving genuinely unrestricted market access to developing countries to help them lift themselves out of poverty.

South Africa’s use of innovation in the defence and space industries

South Africa’s use of innovation in the defence and space industries will be showcased at three events scheduled from 21 to 25 September 2010:

The AAD is the largest exhibition of its kind in Africa and will showcase civil and military aviation, maritime and land-based defence technologies

  • The AAD Youth Development Programme (YDP) is aimed at encouraging young learners to consider careers in South Africa’s aerospace and defence industries.
  • The YDP supports government’s socio-economic development objectives by primarily focusing on promoting and improving results in Mathematics, Science and technical subjects at schools.
  • The AAD2010 will highlight leading developments in aviation products and defence-related technologies. Niche sectors covering commercial and general aviation, homeland security, humanitarian relief and disaster management, freight and forwarding services, as well as search and rescue, have been included.
  • This is Africa’s biggest military and civilian aviation trade show, and is expected to draw an estimated 80 000 trade visitors and aviation enthusiasts. The AAD has been endorsed by government.

South Africa places great significance on its trilateral partnership with India and Brazil through IBSA.

  • IBSA has significantly improved bilateral as well as trilateral political and economic relations among India, Brazil and South Africa and serves as a platform for dialogue and exchange between ministries and non-government entities.
  • This trilateral partnership is prefaced on strong political relations between the three countries and their regions. The partnership encourages and supports initiatives to strengthen economic cooperation, which mirrors these political relations.
  • IBSA aims to increase trade volumes between the three countries to US$ 25 billion by 2015. The three countries will also work towards finalising a trilateral Preferential Trade Agreement that will further stimulate trilateral trade.
  • IBSAMAR is the maritime component of the trilateral partnership aimed at increasing interoperability and enhancing understanding and cooperation among the three nations’ navies. The resultant of the exercise will be the strengthening of multinational cohesion between South Africa, Brazil and India. Exercise IBSAMAR I was successfully executed in southern African waters in early 2008.
  • IBSA has endorsed a joint project to develop and operate a satellite for a space science mission. This project is currently under discussion, but will involve all three countries co-developing and launching the satellite.

The launch of Sansa is located within the Department of Science and Technology’s 10-Year Innovation Plan, which aims to develop an innovation path to contribute towards creating a knowledge-based economy

  • The launch is a significant achievement that will place South Africa among a selected few African countries that have space agencies. The agency will also implement the National Space Strategy, as approved by Cabinet in December 2008, to stimulate the capability of placing South Africa among the leading nations in the innovative utilisation of space science and technology.
  • Government committed to establishing the National Space Strategy through close collaboration with other government departments, based on the premise that the country’s growth targets require significant investment in innovation. Sansa will serve as a central point of convergence in which all space-related national activities can be fostered and promoted.
  • The National Space Agency advocates for a national programme that will address three priority areas, namely:
    • environmental resource management
    • health, safety and security
    • innovation and economic growth.
  • Some of the key objectives of the agency include: fostering research in space science, navigation, positioning and communications; promoting international cooperation in space-related activities; and advancing scientific, engineering and technological competencies through human capital development and outreach programmes.

South Africa is leading the African bid to host the world’s most powerful telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in Africa

  • The SKA will be one of the largest scientific research facilities in the world and will consolidate Africa as a major hub for astronomy in the world. A successful bid would benefit South Africa and the region where further opportunities for foreign investment will be created.
  • Africa is fast becoming a hub of activities in the field of astronomy and related technologies. Winning the SKA bid will be a major step forward for government’s Astronomy Geographical Advantage Programme (AGAP). The AGAP is an initiative by government to establish a hub of world-class astronomy facilities.
  • South Africa also has the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, the Southern African Large Telescope. Namibia has the High Energy Stereoscopic System telescope and several other African countries are constructing or refurbishing telescopes.
  • Hosting the SKA will boost the development of high-level skills and cutting-edge technology infrastructure in Africa, and will also attract expertise and collaborative projects to the continent. Opportunities will also be provided for scientists and engineers from African countries to collaborate in joint projects with the most renowned universities and research institutions in the world.
  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) signalled its confidence in South Africa when our country was selected to host the prestigious IAU Office for Astronomy Development, during the 88th meeting of the IAU Executive Committee in July 2010, after evaluating proposals from 20 different countries.



International relations

  • South Africa, China sign rail pact
    South Africa and China have signed an agreement that seeks to promote cooperation, trade and investment in rail projects between the two countries. The agreement includes identifying research institutions and private organisations such as universities and private companies that have the technical and financial capacity to implement specific projects in the transport sector.
  • Suntech signs Memorandum of Understanding to build South African solar plants
    Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, China's largest maker of solar panels, has announced that it has signed a deal to develop solar plants in South Africa with up to 100 megawatts in capacity as the country looks to boost clean energy output. President Jacob Zuma has urged China to invest more in infrastructure and manufacturing in this country, as government seeks to broaden South Africa's economic appeal beyond mines and resources.


World Cup foreigners injected R3,1 billion into South Africa
According to the data figures released by Visa Inc., foreign Visa card spending reached R3,1 billion during the lead-up to, during and after the 2010 FIFA World CupTM. The study also reveals that spending continued in the three weeks after the final and was up 55% over 2009 levels with 49 000 Visa transactions on average a day from the start of June until the end of July.

Government has confirmed that the country's hotel industry saw an increase in business during the World Cup of more than 50%. Statistics SA said that in June 2010 there was a 55,3% increase in income earned by the accommodation industry compared to June 2009.

Science and technology

South Africa launches climate research centre
South Africa has launched the Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science, which will provide regional decision-makers with reliable climate information, enabling them to balance developmental needs with responses to threats posed by environmental change. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) said that global warming and climate change were now pressing environmental security issues, and the debate on responses to environmental challenges demanded a sound and objective scientific basis for decision-making.

Water and environmental affairs

Investing in water resources
The Department of Water Affairs said that it would invest about R30 billion in water-resource infrastructure projects to support economic development, as well as growth in energy, agriculture and industry. The department plans to complete seven new bulk raw-water augmentation projects during the 2010 to 2014 Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

Ipsa signs new power agreement with Eskom

Independent Power Producer South Africa (Ipsa) has entered into a further power purchase agreement with South Africa's power utility Eskom. The new agreement was signed under the utility's Medium-Term Power Purchase Programme and is a step towards the Government’s target of achieving 30% private-sector contribution to the country’s power supply.

Car-makers committed to local industry

Despite the numerous challenges facing major car-makers in South Africa, they remain committed to investing in the motor industry, viewing the country as rich in opportunities and strategically positioned for further expansion into Africa.