Ambassador H.E. Manelisi Genge

By Reaven D’Souza
Managing Editor

South Africa and Kuwait have cordial diplomatic, political and economic relations, disclosed South African Ambassador H.E. Manelisi Genge in a recent interview following a dinner reception held at the ambassador’s residence.

He pointed out that the two countries have signed several agreements or memorandums of understandings (MoUs) establishing the legal framework for their bilateral relations, as the two countries continue to support each other in international forums.

“Kuwait has become an important market for South African high quality food products, which include fresh fruits and vegetables, chilled meat, juices, spices, cereals and dairy products among others,” revealed the ambassador.

The total value of South Africa’s exports to Kuwait during the Q3 of 2022 was around $27 million while imports from Kuwait stood around $300 million, said Ambassador Genge while voicing his optimism that these figures would further improve in future.

Pointing out that there were several Kuwaiti companies that invested in South Africa, the ambassador elaborated to note that in addition to Kuwait Investment Authority, companies such as Kuwait Auto Parts Import Company (Kapico), ACICO, Al Mawashi, and LuLu Hypermarket among others had a presence in his country.

Ambassador also expressed his appreciation for the Kuwaiti investments in South Africa through the Kuwait Investment Authority in several fields, explaining that they are currently focusing on investments that support food security in Kuwait.

Ambassador Genge further disclosed that South Africa was open for business and was working on attracting more foreign investors to invest in various sectors, including in mining, agriculture and agro-processed products, livestock, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, banking services and storage and logistics services. He added that the economy in South Africa is considered one of the largest economies in the African continent, in addition to being the only African country that is a member of the G20.

Expanding on the tourism potential of his country, Ambassador Genge revealed that while only a little more than a thousand tourists from Kuwait visited South Africa last year the potential to attract more visitors was huge. “South Africa is always ready to welcome Kuwaitis and expatriates to experience its renowned tourist destinations and countless experiences,” said the envoy.

He added that South Africa tourist attractions include wildlife, trans frontier parks, beaches, scenic beauty, adventure activities, history and world heritage sites. South Africa’s unique weather, well-established infrastructure and friendly people make it a most sought after tourist destination.

He emphasized that although Kuwaitis needed a visa to enter South Africa, it was free of charge for a period of 90 days and applications were processed speedily. There was also a mutual desire between the two countries to establish direct flights in the near future.

Speaking about the South African community in Kuwait, the ambassador disclosed that there were about 300 South Africans working in Kuwait in the engineering and education sectors, and that the embassy was currently in the process of attracting other skilled workers from the health sector, including doctors and nurses, to work in Kuwait.

Ambassador Genge praised the growing Kuwaiti role in the African continent, pointing out that the Kuwaiti ambassador to South Africa was accredited to several African countries. He also pointed out that the South African Foreign Minister visited Kuwait in 2021 and during her visit signed agreements to establish the bilateral joint committee for cooperation, which will hold its first meeting in South Africa soon. He also revealed that preparations were underway for an official visit of the South African President to Kuwait this year.

In conclusion, Ambassador Genge pointed out that South Africa has signed and ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, which is one of the flagship projects of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 theme of ‘The Africa We Want’. The continent has a significant economic potential and AfCFTA promises a greater and deepened economic integration, to promote access to the African market by African businesses to build the prosperous ‘Africa We Want’.

“The African continent envisioned by AfCFTA would eliminate barriers to trade in Africa, improve and strengthen regional value chains and offer countries an opportunity to boost competitiveness and diversify product supplies, while also making Africa the most attractive prospect for foreign investors,” added the envoy.

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