At the invitation of His Excellency President Joseph Kabila Kabange of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), His Excellency President Jacob Zuma visited the DRC on the occasion of the 9th Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between South Africa and the DRC which was preceded by a ministerial meeting to be held on 15 October 2015 and a senior officials’ meeting from 13 to 14 October 2015.
South Africa and the DRC maintain good diplomatic and political relations. The highest expression of the quality and significance of this diplomatic relations is the annual BNC co-chaired by the Heads of State. The BNC includes Commissions on Politics and Governance; Defence and Security; Economics, Finance and Infrastructure; and Humanitarian and Social Affairs.
President Zuma was accompanied by a high-powered team‚ including Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies; Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson; Minister of Health Dr Aron Motsoaledi; Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters; Minister of Police Mr Nathi Nhleko; Minister of Public Service and Administration Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela.
During their official talks, the two Presidents reviewed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues and further reviewed progress made with the implementation of bilateral projects. The two countries cooperate in several projects covering various fields, including security sector reform, infrastructure development, capacity and institutional building, humanitarian and social matters. South Africa is the DRC’s biggest supplier of foreign goods and services, providing more than 20% of the country’s total imports. Bilateral trade increased from R11 billion in 2012 to R 13 billion in 2014.
One of the projects highlighted during the visit that will enjoy a boost from the ongoing relationship is the multibillion-dollar Inga 3 dam project, on the Congo River. Africa’s most powerful river, it is perfect for hydro-energy generation.
The Inga 3 Basse Chute project near Matadi will divert the river’s waters into a 12km channel and passing through a 100m hydropower dam in the Bundi Valley before releasing the water back into the river. The project is expected to generate 4 800 megawatts of power, equivalent to the output of three third-generation nuclear reactors, and boost power supplies to a region starved of electricity.
“This project will help turn on the switch to a brighter future for Congo, and the continent,” Zuma said.