South Africa and Burundi share the struggle against poverty, President Jacob Zuma said yesterday. “We are also waging a war on poverty, unemployment and inequality,” Zuma told the SA-Burundi Business Forum in Cape Town. He congratulated President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and his people for choosing peace and for the progress they have made since the end of the civil war in 2005. “Having worked together in the quest for peace and democracy in Burundi, we are now working together again in the quest for prosperity,” he said. “We were in the trenches together, fighting for peace and democracy. Now the time is ripe for Burundi and South Africa to start a new and meaningful chapter of economic co-operation.”
Zuma said the two countries had agreed that boosting economic relations would be high up on the agenda. “We have a responsibility to create a better life for our peoples and as you said, together we must reap the dividends of peace. And that is through more meaningful economic co-operation.” A Joint Co-operation Commission agreement was signed to enhance co-operation in sectors such as agriculture, arts and culture, commerce, education, politics, defence, sports, mining, women’s empowerment, investment, health, science and technology, communications, public works and finance.
“We will be able to build on the work done already in these sectors and be able to steadily grow trade and investments.” He said bilateral trade between the two countries had been slowly increasing from R47.7m in 2007 to just over R52m in 2013.
“The business people from both countries should certainly improve these figures by further exploring opportunities in the two countries.” He said Burundi was a strategically positioned country, being a member of a number of regional economic communities and inter-governmental organisations, including the East Africa Community. “We see lots of opportunities that will arise from this location.”