by Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool
This e-newsletter is a welcome -- we hope -- addition to Team South Africa’s instruments in the United States. In response to what we gladly perceive to be a growing curiosity about South Africa and the African continent, we are determined to make the best use of new technologies to convey our country’s timeless message and express our confidence in South Africa's business and political case. Read the full message.
"Albertina Sisulu understood what the ancients meant when they said “mme o tshwara thipa ka fa bogaleng” -- the mother must hold the sharp end of the attacker’s knife when protecting her children."
Angie Motshekga, President of the ANC Women’s League and Minister of Basic Education.
US-South Africa trade council meets
A reinvigorated Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council convened in Sandton, South Africa, on 06 June. (more).
10th Annual AGOA Forum
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Thandi Tobias-Pokolo, led South African's delegation to the 10th Annual AGOA Forum in Lusaka, Zambia on 09-10 June. (more).
South Africa hosts regional trade summit
Leaders from three of the continent's major economic communities met in Sandton on 12 June to advance the cause of a free trade zone stretching from the Cape to Cairo.
Stay tuned for Transactions, a newsletter dedicated to deepening the US-SA trade and investment relationship.
GLOBAL SOUTH AFRICANS
President Jacob Zuma and IMC chair Anita Soni brief the media after their May 24 meeting
Global South Africans (GSAs) are influential, well-placed South Africans living and working abroad. The International Marketing Council (IMC), aka Brand South Africa, aims to mobilise the GSA network behind a program of investment recruitment, skills identification, mentoring, skills transfer, study exchange and work experience initiatives.
After meeting President Jacob Zuma on May 24, IMC chair Anita Soni, said:
"As Brand South Africa we are seriously and effectively engaging with...South Africans who are doing us proud out in the world. They are holding their own in senior and leadership positions all by virtue of the fact that they had their education and training in South Africa -- and the world looks at them and sees leaders at a global level. They are wonderful ambassadors for us and we are proud of that and want, as Brand South Africa, to work with them."
South Africa has come a long way in the past 17 years, but as the Diagnostic Overview released this month by the president's National Planning Commission makes plain, there's still a lot to be done. If you're interested in lending a hand, Brand South Africa and private sector partners are co-sponsoring a groundbreaking new social network to team you up with like-minded people, at home and abroad, and help you make a real difference. Take a look.
A PLATFORM FOR ENGAGEMENT
by Deputy Chief of Mission Johnny Moloto
I am pleased to introduce to you our inaugural e-newsletter. It gives us as South African Missions in the United States both a voice and a platform to share our program of action and the progress we are making. It also offers increased scope for Team South Africa and our partners to engage with each other. Read the full article.
ALBERTINA SISULU, 21 October 1918 - 2 June 2011
A mother of the nation passes
The embassy joined forces with the South African community and the Life Restoration Ministry to organise a memorial service for Mrs Albertina Sisulu at the Metropolitan AME church in Washington DC on 9 June. The event saw South Africans living in the US volunteering their time and resources to pay heartfelt tribute to MaSisulu, as she was affectionately known, and what she meant in their lives. Read the full article.
ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW
Celebrating South African Science and Technology
Congressman Jim McDermott speaks at "South Africa, Always Something New" event on Capitol Hill, June 2.
Working with the US office of Brand South Africa, the embassy has created a travelling exhibit to showcase how South Africans are advancing the frontiers of knowledge in areas ranging from astronomy and palaeontology to medicine and nuclear physics to electric car design and other technologies to preserve the environment and mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases. Read the full article.
NEW GROWTH PATH BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
New York Consul General George Monyemangene addresses investors.
Investment opportunities for American companies created by South Africa's New Growth Path were the focus of an investment seminar, the first of a planned series, held at the New York consulate general on May 25. Goldman Sachs, Citibank and AT&T were among the companies represented. Read the full story.
MATIES CONNECT WITH HOPE
Stellensbosch University vice-chancellor Prof. Russell Botman (pictured above) briefed alumni on the school's flagship HOPE Project (www.thehopeproject.co.za), at a Washington DC networking event on May 17. The gathering, attended by Ambassador Rasool, showed how talented, well-connected South Africans abroad are looking for, and finding, ways to "give something back". Read the full story.
GETTING READY FOR THE AFRICAN DIASPORA SUMMIT
Amb. Mbulelo Rakwena, South African coordinator for next year's planned African Diaspora summit.
"Bankable projects" were high or the list of desired outcomes for the African Diaspora summit South Africa is preparing to host next year at the behest of the African Union, South Africa's coordinator for the summit, Ambassador Mbulelo Rakwena, told a media briefing that the National Press Club in Washington on May 19. For more on preparations for the summit click here.
GRANNIES ON SAFARI
Consulate staff meet the "Grannies". From left: Thoke Maleswena, Kaba Chokoe, Pat Johnson, Regina Fraser and Nomntu Lavisa
The award-winning "Grannies on Safari" travel show, seen on public television station around the US, is helping popularise South Africa as a travel destination. The "Grannies" are a pair of dynamic Chicagoans, Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson. Our consulate in Chicago was delighted to be invited to help brand the launch of the show's third season on May 13.
This e-newsletter is a welcome -- we hope -- addition to Team South Africa’s tool set in the United States. In response to a growing curiosity about South Africa and the African continent, we are determined to make the best use of new technologies to convey our country’s timeless message and express our confidence in South Africa's business and political case.
Our Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, has left us a substantive programme of our work following the Strategic Dialogue with Secretary Clinton last December. Our Deputy President made a whirlwind tour of the US in March generating both enthusiastic interest on the part of investors and a desire to participate in the exciting political programme of SA. Our National Day celebrations were underpinned by a showcasing of SA’s scientific and technological prowess. All of this speaks to a relationship with the US that is both vibrant and mature.
We have a clear understanding both of what we share (largely in objectives) and of where we differ (sometimes in strategy). This maturity allows mutual benefits to flow uninterrupted and for our mutual goals of expanding peace and democracy as well as more equitable economic development to be pursued in co-operation.
Our aim is that Team South Africa News will become a source of information and a platform for discussion to mobilize and advance the work of Team SA in the US.
Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool
A PLATFORM FOR ENGAGEMENT
I am pleased to introduce to you our inaugural e-newsletter. It gives us as South African Missions in the United States both a voice and a platform to share our program of action and progress we are making. It also offers increased scope for Team South Africa and our partners to engage with each other.
We live in difficult times with dwindling budgets and ever-increasing needs. Nowhere is this more acutely evident than in our host country where on a daily basis we witness real challenges such as the growing debt and budget deficit, high unemployment levels, and declining education standards. These challenges mirror the ones we face back in South Africa where their successful resolution is at the heart of our government’s agenda to create a better life for all.
However, for all the seeming doom and gloom, we are upbeat about our prospects for improving the lives of all South Africans by helping our government build partnerships for growth in addressing our five priority areas. These are: education, health, rural development and land reform, creating decent work, and fighting crime.
We believe that, in the US, we have a partner to work with us to realize the vision of creating a better life for all. Despite the views of some observers about the US being a superpower in decline, we as diplomats on the ground have a different understanding. Just as we have worked strenuously for the rebirth of the African continent, we see this as moment of renewal for our relations with the US.
It has been a time of renewal for both countries. President Obama referred to this in his State of the Union Address when he said, “That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves.”
While South Africa is only seventeen years old and cannot claim the long history of the US, we have also made some remarkable achievements since 1994. However, we are aware that significant challenges still remain. We have identified where the obstacles are and we are dealing with these in order to realize our vision. As early as 2010 during his State of the Nation Address, President Zuma declared, "We are pleased to announce a new way of doing things in government.”
This new way is what drives us and is evidenced in a number of changes in the way we do our work at the Missions. We have sharpened our focus to leverage the political solidarity that exists between our leadership and peoples to deliver on the critical areas of our bilateral relationship, namely socio-economic development.
We will utilize both the statutory and the people-to-people tools available to us to nurture this relationship and facilitate a win-win partnership. The Bilateral Strategic Dialogue and Annual Bilateral Forum remain critical tools the management of government to government relations. We will continue to use these platforms to facilitate our engagement with the United States on key programs such as the Presidential Emergency Fund on AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
There are vast opportunities at the people-to-people level. In this regard, our efforts to re-engage the African Diaspora and anti-apartheid movement as we prepare for our hosting of the African Diaspora Summit in 2012 provides us with an opportunity to learn more from them, use their experience to improve our own efforts at basic service delivery, infrastructure development, technology and skills transfer. Americans are people of great good will and are a huge repository of philanthropy that could be utilized to support our own socio-economic development initiatives.
I remain confident that we have a capable team at our Missions which is up to the challenges that lie ahead of us. This team proceeds from the premise that with sufficient determination anything is possible and where other see challenges, we see opportunities.
ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW
South African scientists, researchers and inventors are at the cutting edge of their fields. Within those fields, this is widely understood and acknowledged; outside, South Africa and its continent are not automatically associated with technological prowess. We mean to change that. The Washington embassy, working with the US office of Brand South Africa, has created a travelling exhibit to showcase how South Africans are advancing the frontiers of knowledge in areas ranging from astronomy and palaeontology to medicine and nuclear physics to electric car design and other technologies to preserve the environment and mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases.
Under the banner of "South Africa, Always Something New", the exhibition features the breakthroughs South African scientists and engineers are making to meet the extraordinary technical challenges posed by the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope project, which, when completed, will be the largest instrument of its kind ever built by several orders of magnitude. Other highlights include South Africans' pioneering work to shed new light on the origins of humankind, take the nuclear proliferation risk out of the manufacture of medical isotopes and develop an antiretroviral gel that will empower women to protect themselves reliably from HIV.
The exhibit has been shown at the World Bank and American University and was the centrepiece of the embassy's Freedom Day celebration. On June 2, it was part of a day-long event entitled "Africa as the next Frontier" in the main reception area of the Rayburn building on Capitol Hill through the good offices of Congressman Bobby Rush and the Congressional African Staff Association. Joining Rep. Rush as honorary hosts were Congressman Jim McDermott (pictured above with Ambassador Rasool and his wife Roseida), Congressman Donald Payne, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Congressman Steve Cohen.
The choice of where to locate in the Square Kilometre Array and its 4000 receiving dishes has been narrowed down to South Africa and Australia. If South Africa is chosen, SKA sensors will likely be located in a number of other African countries as well, which is spurring continent-wide excitement aboit the project and growing interest in relevant courses at a number of African universities.
Organisers of the "Always Something New" exhibit are grateful for the support they have received from South Africa's SKA project manager Bernie Fanaroff and his team, as well as from from the South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI), Eskom, NECSA and its subsidiary, NTP Isotopes, and Caprisa. Owed a special word of thanks are Prof Lee Berger and his colleagues at the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand for making available a set of casts of the Sediba bones.
NEW GROWTH PATH INVESTMENT SEMINAR
On Wednesday, May 25, the Mission hosted an investment seminar that focused on the investment opportunities for American companies in South Africa. In particular the seminar highlighted the opportunities that will be created through the implementation of the New Growth Path.
The seminar was structured into two distinct components. Firstly a presentation on the New Growth Path, was provided by Consul General George Monyemangene, which was then followed by a panel discussion, that was Chaired by Peter Tichansky, CEO at the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), and which featured Africa.com CEO Ms Theresa Clarke, Iman Kennerly Director, Project Finance, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Claude Roxborough, President the South African Chamber of Commerce in America.
Invitations were extended to a broad range of Mission contacts. These included current and potential investors from sectors such as financial services, BPO and Alternative Energy as well as general manufacturing. The response was encouraging and. in all, the event was attended by 60 business contacts from the greater New York area and included representatives from such companies as Citibank, AT&T, Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street Journal.
The seminar produced a lively discussion particularly around the areas concerning the access to funding for US companies. The feedback from participants was extremely positive, both in terms of the content and the quality of participant. Given the success of the event the Mission intends to initiate a number of similar such events spread throughout the year that will capitalize on timely events and developments likely to interest US investors.
HONOURING THE MEMORY OF ALBERTINA SISULU
The embassy joinced forces with the South African community and the Life Restoration Ministry to organise a memorial service for Mrs Albertina Sisulu at the Metropolitan AME church in Washington DC on 9 June. The memorial was an initiative of the South African community in the DC area whose members came together to celebrate the life of a South African icon who, no matter how far they were from home, continued to make a difference in their lives. The event saw South Africans living in the US volunteering their time and resources to organise a truly fitting ceremony for MaSisulu as she was affectionately known.
Tributes were paid in music and words. DC-based South African musician Chris Ntaka performed. Speakers included the Rev. Ronald Baxter, pastor of the Metropolitan AME Church, and representatives from the embassy, the South African community, Howard University, the National Council of Negro Women and the office opf DC Mayor Vincent Gray. The Life Restoration Ministry's Rev. Dr. Mankekolo Mahlangu-Ngcobo provided words of comfort.
Attendees included members of the diplomatic corps, South Africans living in DC, and other friends of the South African Embassy. The event itself was a solemn one. Speakers remembered MaSisulu for the inspiration, comfort and strength she gave not only South Africans but all who met her.
South Africa and the United States’ re-invigorated Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council convened in Sandton, South Africa, on 06 June.
The TIFA Council comprises the South African Minister of Trade and Industry and the United States Trade Representative and brings together, on an annual basis, respective government agencies, departments and private sector entities to engage on all trade and commercial matters pertaining to the South Africa–United States relationship.
This year’s TIFA Council, comprising the Minister Davies and Deputy USTR Ambassador Demetrios Maranti discussed a wide range of strategic economic issues including respective industrial and trade policies, investment facilitation, infrastructure development, regional integration as well as issues relating to the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The TIFA Council represents the strength of the South Africa–United States economic relationship and complements the work undertaken by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and the United States Secretary of State in December 2010 in launching the South Africa-United States Strategic Dialogue.
A South African government delegation, led by Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Thandi Tobias-Pokolo, took part in the 10th Annual AGOA Forum in Lusaka, Zambia on 09-10 June.
In addition to leading South Africa’s input in the Forum deliberations, the deputy minister addressed a VIP luncheon on the developmental opportunities arising frm United States’ National Export Initiative. She hightlighted the potential for greater SMME linkages between the United States and Africa as well as the positive impact that US investments in Africa can have on the United States’ own export drive.
United States’ increased investments in Africa’s productive capacity can create decent and sustainable jobs and raise income levels on the continent, creating a consumer market able to absorb United States’ exports in line with the United States’ won National Export Initiative’s objectives.
The 10th AGOA Forum is a formal engagement mechanism between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa, bringing together decision-makers from both the United States and AGOA beneficiary countries to discuss market access opportunities and challenges and to deliberate on ways to enhance and address both, respectively.
The AGOA Forum remains the only platform to date which allows collective discussion on trade and investment matters by United States and the majority of sub-Saharan African countries.
Key policy issues that the AGOA beneficiary countries will be advancing at the Forum include:
• The extension of AGOA beyond its current expiration date of September 2015.
• The inclusion of South Africa as a beneficiary of the AGOA third country fabric Provisions and the extension of the provisions beyond the September 2012 expiration date.
• The important contribution that AGOA has made to advancing regional integration in Africa and the importance of maintaining regional anchor economies within AGOA so as to grow regional value-chains and foster increased intra-Africa trade.
South Africa shares the views of other beneficiary countries in relation to the aforementioned policy issues.
SOUTH AFRICA HOSTS THE SECOND COMESA-EAC-SADC SUMMIT
The South African Government hosted the Second Tripartite Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled which took place on 12 June 2011 at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
The Summit’s objectives were to formally launch the Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA) negotiations between the 26 member states of the three Regional Economic Communities (REC) – namely, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The T-FTA will result in the creation of a large, integrated market with a combined Gross Domestic Product of over $625 billion and a combined population of approximately 700 million.
The Summit’s objectives will build on the improved economic development prospects and potential in Africa. The Summit will give further impetus to infrastructure development, supporting industrial development and diversification to build production capacity among the member states.
The implementation of the T-FTA will yield multiple investment and financing opportunities for United States entities and companies looking to expand to the African continent.
A recent gathering in Washington DC of alumni of the University of Stellenbosch was a timely example of the talent and opportunity that lies within the South African community in the USA. The networking event was hosted by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Russel Botman who was accompanied by his spouse, Ms. Beryl Botman, and supported by his colleagues from the alumni office. He shared the University’s plans for the future, specifically its flagship undertaking, the HOPE Project (www.thehopeproject.co.za), with an audience of alumni which reflected the diverse and international character that has increasingly become a hallmark of Maties.
The HOPE Project sets the University the goal of positioning itself as Africa’s premier tertiary institution, using its academic resources to address some of the toughest challenges faced by the continent and South Africa. The alumni gathered that evening reflected the calibre of graduates that South Africa’s universities produce every year; an acclaimed astrophysicist at NASA, a senior strategist at the World Bank and current and retired diplomats were just some of the alumni who made it to the National Press Club for the reception.
Prof. Botman, who was recently appointed for a second five-year term at the institution, emphasised the role of the University’s alumni in its future and in the success of the HOPE Project. Alumni, both in SA and across the world, are being encouraged to become regular donors to their alma mater and more information on the various, and affordable, ways in which donations may be made can be found at www.matiesalumni.net.
Ambassador Rasool and his spouse, Ms Rosieda Shabodien, were also in attendance and the Ambassador made use of the opportunity to address the South African expatriate community on the Embassy’s plans to work closely with Global South Africans to realise the objectives of Team South Africa in the US.