Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane being interviewed by Peter Fabricius (INL)

JOHANNESBURG: President Jacob Zuma’s administration is aiming to start implementing the ambitious project to expand the Inga hydroelectric project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during its second term.

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who has just been reappointed to the cabinet, specified the Inga project on the Congo River downstream of Kinshasa as one of the priorities of her second term in office.

In an interview she noted that South Africa had signed an agreement with the DRC last year to help develop Inga 3 which is intended to produce about 4 800 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

South Africa agreed to buy 2 500MW of this production. Inga 3 is envisaged as the first phase of a seven-phase project which would eventually produce nearly 40 000MW of electricity from the Inga Falls.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the government aimed to get Parliament to ratify the Inga agreement with the DRC and then to begin implementing it.

She added that much of her second term would be devoted to consolidating the gains of the first term, including joining the Brics forum (with Brazil, Russia, India and China) and holding the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) in 2011 to help negotiate a deal to curb global warming.

South Africa would be handing over the chair of Brics to Brazil next month. Chairing Brics had brought a 200 percent rise in trade with the other Brics nations over five years, an agreement for the members to use each other’s financial reserves if needed, progress towards an agreement to trade in each other’s currencies and record progress towards establishing a Brics development bank.

Nkoana-Mashabane said COP 17 had rescued the Kyoto Protocol, which had committed developed countries to limiting their carbon emissions.

She said South Africa would participate “very positively” in COP 20 in Lima later this year and would use COP 21 in Paris next year to safeguard the gains made so far while also ensuring a good outcome for South Africa, Africa and the developing world by ensuring economic growth, while preventing global warming becoming “a catastrophe”.

Another priority of the Zuma administration’s second term would be participating in the negotiations of the global Post-2015 development agenda which will replace the Millennium Development Goals agreed on at the UN in 2000, when they expire next year.

These include halving 1990 poverty levels, giving a primary school education to all in that age group, equalising girls education and drastically reducing infant, child and maternal mortality.

Asked if South Africa believed that Egypt should be re-admitted to the AU after the recent elections, she stressed that her government would be guided in its response by the AU summit scheduled to take place in Equatorial Guinea later this month.

The AU suspended Egypt after then army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi in what the AU regarded as a military coup on July 3.

Pretoria angered the Egyptian government by being one of the few countries in Africa to condemn the coup which it said violated the AU’s rule against unconstitutional changes of government.

The AU is now considering whether to lift Egypt’s suspension because of last month’s presidential elections which Sisi won by a landslide.

Though she stressed that South Africa would be guided by the AU, Nkoana-Mashabane added, when asked whether her government itself believed Egypt should be admitted that “they seem to be on their way to something”.

Cape Times