A bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Belarus, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding talks with the Board Chairman of the Belarus National Bank and delivering a lecture at the University of Belarus. These are highlights of the maiden official visit of the African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to Belarus. The visit took place from 21-24 April 2016.
In her meeting with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, H.E. Andrei Kobyakov, the AU Commission Chairperson made a case for greater collaboration and cooperation between Africa and Belarus. She recalled the historic relationship that existed during the days of the Soviet Republic, and invited the Government of Belarus to create favourable conditions for Belarusian businesses to invest Africa at national, sub-regional and continental levels.
“We will never forget the support that Africa got during that time,” said Dr. Dlamini-Zuma. “That is why today we are urging the people of Belarus to invest in Africa as it implements its 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063.”
In line with a clear strategic direction, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma and the First Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, Mr. Mikhnevich. Following the signing of the MoU, they agreed to put establish a working group to identify specific project areas of cooperation, based on Africa’s Agenda 2063, the 10-year implementation plan and the 12 flagship projects.
The Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Elham Ibrahim, who was part of the Chairperson’s delegation, would lead the working group from the Africa side.
Areas that would benefit from immediate cooperation include agriculture and agro-processing, transport, energy, ICT infrastructural and industrialisation projects of continental regional and continental reach.
“Belarus has no oil, no gas, and the weather isn’t always good. But we have the head and the hands that we have used develop expertise in the areas of agriculture and agro-processing, energy generation through wind, sun, wood and nuclear,” the First Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister said.
The same views were shared by the Chairperson’s delegation when they met separately with the Belarus Minister of Industry; the Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology; First Deputy Minister of Architecture; and the Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus.
Dr. Dlamini Zuma highly appreciated the involvement of the Banks at this early stage, given that Financing is often one of the principal challenges raised in international business transactions.
After meetings with Government officials, the AU Commission Chairperson also delivered a lecture at the University of Belarus, focusing on Africa’s Agenda 2063. The lecture was characterized by a lively and interactive discussion between the Chairperson and students.
It was agreed that a MoU would be signed between the Pan African University and the University of Belarus to facilitate, among others, the training of students but also the transfer of technology.