South Africa and Portugal held the Sixth Session of Bilateral Consultations in Pretoria on 2 August 2019 to strengthen transnational cooperation in some areas of mutual interest.
The bilateral consultation, which was hosted by Mr Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, had in attendance key government agency officials in South Africa and their counterparts from Portugal – led by Ms Teresa Ribeiro, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) August 2, 2019
During her visit, Ribeiro also paid a courtesy visit to Dr Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.
The Sixth Session of Bilateral Consultations between South Africa and Portugal follows a history of regular bilateral talks since both nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Consultations on 25 November 2002, which provides for “regular meetings chaired by the Ministers or Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries in order to discuss Bilateral Relations, Regional and Multilateral Issues”.
During the meeting, officials of both countries extensively discussed developmental strides at the international, regional and national levels with a focus on their mutual interests. Specific issues discussed at the meeting include collaborations in defence, education; tourism, science and innovation; trade and investment, ocean economy and culture.
South Africa and Portugal applauded the ongoing efforts being made by both countries to promote bilateral defence partnerships through the negotiation of a Defence Cooperation Agreement. They affirmed their interest to facilitate cooperation in critical areas such as maritime security, peacekeeping, military education and training, as well as in the defence industry.
In respect of science and innovation, officials of both countries agreed to strengthen higher education in science, collaborate in industry research, and equally cooperate in the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) international telescope.
As founding signatories of the Convention establishing the Square Kilometre Array Observatory, officials present at the meeting acknowledged the roles that South Africa and Portugal were playing in advancing the SKA project. They noted that both countries were on the verge of concluding the ratification process to become parties to the Convention.
As a follow-up on the agreement pertaining to science and technology signed by both countries in 2015, the delegations further discussed several joint initiatives that had been launched since then, as well as the possibility of hosting a joint research workshop in select themed areas.
The National Research Foundation of South Africa, in collaboration with the Foundation for Science and Technology of Portugal further examined the feasibility of launching a Call for Research Proposals (CRP) in the future. The Research Proposals, as well as the workshop, would cover thematic research areas such as big data, renewable energy, sustainable development and the ocean economy.
The South African officials extended an invitation to their Portuguese counterparts to participate in the South African Science Forum event, slated to take place in Pretoria from December 4 to December 5, 2019.
South Africa and Portugal plan to explore the possibility of establishing future trilateral collaboration with other African countries, such as Angola and Mozambique.
Read the full Joint Communiqué of the Sixth Session of Bilateral Consultations between South Africa and Portugal, released by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Editor at Space in Africa. He writes about Africa’s NewSpace companies and emerging national space programs.