Beijing – President Jacob Zuma says the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Bank is coming to Africa at an opportune moment as the continent is promoting regional integration and cross-border trade and investment.

“We will cooperate with China to ensure that the Shanghai headquarters and the African regional centre in South Africa are established as per agreed timelines.

“We have prioritised the ratification of the agreement establishing the bank and South Africa has also instituted committees to make the African Regional Centre operational,” said Zuma.

Nuclear energy cooperation

Measures to promote industrialisation and regional integration include the relaxation of customs and tax regulations that will assist with easing the movement of goods and services within the region.

South Africa is encouraging further Chinese investment, especially in key areas such as the beneficiation of mineral resources, improving industrial capacity and enhancing agro-processing as well as energy and, in particular, nuclear energy cooperation.

Zuma said that after fruitful discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, the two countries regard the memorandum of understanding on cooperation between their nuclear authorities as a mechanism which will enhance the mutual exchange of information, best practices and lessons learnt in the nuclear energy sector.

Zuma said in Beijing that bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded R270bn at the end of 2013.

Ten-year innovation plan

China’s investment into South Africa is cumulatively valued at about R120bn, with over 100 state-owned entities and multinational companies investing in South Africa.

The South African government has developed a 10-year innovation plan spearheaded by the department of science and technology.

This sets out long-term goals that include becoming one of the leading economies in the global pharmaceutical industry, based on the innovative use of the country’s knowledge and biodiversity.

It also includes deploying satellites that provide a range of scientific, security and specialised services for all spheres of the government as well as the public and private sector.