Bilateral Relations: South Africa and Norway
South Africa and Norway maintain excellent relations. Norway was a staunch supporter of the liberation movements during the struggle for democracy in South Africa. After his release from prison in 1990, Mr Mandela visited Norway three times prior to assuming the Presidency. These occasions included his visit to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. As a State President, Mr Mandela paid a state visit to Norway in March 1999. These visits have been particularly important, taking into account the importance of Norway in the struggle against apartheid.
South Africa opened a Consulate General in Oslo in September 1988 while Norway already had a Consulate General in Cape Town. On 1 January 1992, diplomatic relations were upgraded to ambassadorial level and Norway opened an Embassy in South Africa.
In February 1996 former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland paid an official visit to South Africa and in November 1996 the then Deputy President Mbeki visited Norway. A State Visit to South Africa by King Harald V and Queen Sonya took place during February 1998. During August 2001 Crown Prince Haakon visited South Africa to raise funds to combat HIV/AIDS.
The former Prime Minister of Norway, Mr Kjell Bondevik, paid an official visit to South Africa from 10 to 14 February 2000. His delegation consisted of over 70 persons including the Minister of International Development, Ms Hilde Frafjord-Johnson, and the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Harriet Berg, senior government officials, a large business delegation and media representatives.
During the visit by former Prime Minister Brundtland in February 1996 former Foreign Ministers Bjørn Tore Godal and Alfred B. Nzo signed a “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Relating to Joint Consultation and Decision Making in Matters of Foreign Policy”.
In terms of this MOU regular meetings have taken place between 1998 and 2002 between the Heads of Department of the South African Department of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In June 2000 discussions were held between Mr Bjarne Lindstrøm and Mr Nyameko Barney Pityana. Discussions between Deputy Minister Pahad and State Secretary Mr Raymond Johansen took place on 21 November 2001. On 13 April 2002 discussions were held between the Secretary General, Mr Bjarne Lindstrøm and the Acting Director-General, Mr Abdul S. Minty.
During the South African – Nordic Summit in Skagen, Denmark, on 8 June 2000 a successful bilateral meeting took place between President Thabo Mbeki and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Prime Minister Stoltenberg expressed Norway’s support for the President’s global initiative for Africa and its commitment to continue its development cooperation with South Africa.
Former Prime Minister Bondevik, as the 2002 Chair of the Nordic Council, in December 2001 invited President Mbeki to Norway to attend a second South African – Nordic Summit in Molde on 12 May 2002 followed by an official visit to Oslo on 13 May 2002.
Fundamental to trade relations between South Africa and Norway is the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for the import of goods from developing countries, which was extended by Norway to South Africa on 6 May 1994.
South Africa accounted for 0.07% of total Norwegian trade exports in 2004, while the total South African exports to Norway over the same period made up 0.08% of all imports to Norway. For the share of South African exports and imports in world trade, click here.
Statistics Norway indicate that from January to August 2004 the value of South Africa’s exports to Norway amounted to NOK 511.9 million. The amount of trade for the same period in 2005 increased by 17 % to NOK 598.8 million.
For the corresponding period in 2005, the South African imports from Norway amounted to NOK 263.7 million, a decrease of 7.2 % in comparison with the same period in 2004.
The value of South African imports from Norway:
- 2001 NOK 328.2 million
- 2002 NOK 260.3 million
- 2003 NOK 426.8 million
South African imports from Norway include the following commodities: metalworking machinery; plastics in primary forms; tobacco and tobacco products; electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances; crude animal and vegetable materials; telecommunication and sound recording equipment; iron and steel; professional scientific and control instruments; chemical materials and products; road vehicles; leather and leather products; transport equipment; general industrial machinery and equipment; machinery specialized for particular industries.
The value of South African exports to Norway:
- 2001 NOK 527.8 million
- 2002 NOK 570.3 million
- 2003 NOK 612.9 million
(Source for import and export figures: Statistics Norway)
South African exports to Norway include the following commodities: metalliferous ores and metal scrap; beverages; cork and wood; petroleum, petroleum products and related materials; vegetables and fruit; oil seeds and oleaginous fruits; transport equipment; textile yarn, fabrics, made-up articles; telecommunication and sound recording equipment; crude animal and vegetable material; metal products; electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances; meat and meat preparations; rubber products.
The figures shown above indicate a positive trade balance in favour of South Africa. For more details on South Africa’s share in country imports, click here.
A business delegation of 25 companies, including various captains of industry, visited South Africa in February 1998. The business visit produced a number of concrete results, including decisions to open offices in South Africa and to expand investments.
Former South African Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mrs Pumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, led a business delegation to Norway during May 1998. She participated in a very successful business seminar, attended by more than 50 Norwegian companies.
Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik led a business delegation to South Africa in February 2000. As part of the visit a Norway – South Africa Business Seminar was held in Sandton on 11 February. Workshops were held on Energy, Registry, Telecommunications as well as Water Supply and Sanitation. Representatives from more than 60 Norwegian companies attended the seminar. By then the value of Norwegian investments in South Africa were already R1bn.
The visit has had beneficial effects on the economic links between the two countries. The Business Seminar was a great success and afforded an opportunity for concrete discussions between representatives of the Norwegian business community and their South African counterparts.
Norway has actively encouraged trade through trade missions to South Africa. An increasing number of companies are planning to expand their operations through increased investments and technology.
South Africa is seen as a growth point into the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. Norwegian companies have shown an interest in joint ventures, expansion of existing operations, buying into local companies, as well as the exploration of small, micro and medium enterprises(SMMEs). Through the matchmaking programme, the increasing number of Norwegian and South African SMMEs engage in joint venture operations.
During 1997/98, Norway was the largest Nordic investor in South Africa, with investments of over NOK500 million.
A Norwegian-South African Chamber of Commerce (NSACCI) was established during 1996. The Embassy cooperates closely with the Chamber regarding the distribution of information, and briefings on economic developments in South Africa. The Chamber is viewed as an important structure for facilitating trade and investment between Norway and South Africa.
NORAD set up a Matchmaking Programme in March 1997, aimed at finding South African partners for small to medium-sized Norwegian companies. The Programme, which is the Norwegian Government’s prime investment promotion tool, is making good progress. Over 58 Norwegian companies are currently looking for SMME partners in South Africa.
The vast potential for tourism from Norway must be exploited further, given that the Nordic region is one of the fastest growing tourist markets for South Africa.
The South African Embassy in Oslo annually takes part in a tourism exhibition, Reiseliv. Reiseliv 2005 attracted 48,427 visitors, including 1061 exhibitors from 61 different countries, representing local and international travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
The South African entrepreneurs in the travel, tourism and trade industry visit Norway annually as part of the Scandinavian Roadshow to promote South African tourism products. Thirteen companies participated in the Roadshow in 2005. The Embassy assisted with the coordination of the event.
In the period January to December 2004 the number of Norwegian tourists to South Africa was 18,506, an increase of 5% compared with the same period in 2003. In the period January to April 2005, more than 8,460 Norwegians had visited South Africa, 1,450 more visitors than in the same period of 2004. (Source: 2004 Annual Tourism Report, South African Tourism)
South Africa and Norway signed a Declaration of Intent in 2003 declaring mutual intention to enhance cooperation in the fields of Bilateral Consultations and Development Cooperation.
The contact between the Norwegian Ministry of Environment and the South African Department of Environment and Tourism is ongoing. Mr Thorbjørn Berntsen, the Norwegian Minister of Environment visited South Africa in February 1997 and the South African Director General of Environment and Tourism, Dr Cameron, visited Norway in May 1997. Co-operation in terms of the Bilateral Development Assistance Programme in the area of environmental affairs is extensive. This includes co-operation around restoring national heritage sites. Norway supported South Africa’s proposal regarding the downlisting of the South African population of the African Elephant from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora at Cites 2000 held in Nairobi during April 2000.
Norway continues to support South Africa on matters relating to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), including illegal fishing within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Prince Edward Islands.
On 11 February 2000, former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and former Minister of Governmental Affairs & Tourism Valli Moosa signed a Letter of Intent concerning Norwegian Support for joint Environmental Cooperation Projects. The letter extends the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Ministry of Environment of the Kingdom of Norway. The objectives of this extended environmental cooperation are to continue and improve dialogue and cooperation on international and bilateral issues of mutual interest as well as to establish strategic links. The cooperation will aim to secure peace, democracy and human rights through sustainable development that will address poverty alleviation and equitable access to environmental resources.
The cooperation focused on the following themes:
- Climate change and energy
- Environmental coordination and management
- Giving effect to environmental rights and justice
- Biodiversity and water
- Pollution and waste
- Strategic interaction and consultations between the two Ministries of Environment
Norway has provided significant development assistance to higher education in South Africa. This began with bursary funds to South African students in exile during the apartheid years and support to university-based NGO’s fighting apartheid.
In the mid-1990’s the Norwegian Council for Higher Education’s Programme for Development Research and Education (NUFU) established a special programme for South Africa with a research component and, through it, institutional cooperation was established with historically disadvantaged universities in South Africa.
Most academic cooperation projects between Norwegian and South African institutions are undertaken, on the Norwegian side, through the programme of Development Research and Education (NUFU) of the Norwegian Council for Higher Education. NUFU projects aim to promote Norwegian cooperation with academic institutions of the South through joint research, training researchers for Masters and PhD degrees and development of new undergraduate programmes and training of technical and administrative staff.
Currently South African institutions are engaged in the following NUFU projects:
- Universities of the Western Cape and Bergen: Graduate Studies in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education – GRASSMATE
- University of Kwazulu-Natal and Agricultural University of Norway: Nature Conservation and Management: Biodiversity in coastal Maputu (northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern part of Mozambique): links between geology and ecology.
- Universities of Pretoria and Bergen: Productive Learning Cultures
- University of Kwazulu-Natal and Norwegian University of Science and Technology: Renewable Energy Resources and Their Development
- Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUNSA) and University of Bergen: Research and Training in Southern Africa for the Development and Evaluation of New Childhood Vaccines
- University of the North and University of Oslo: The Psychology Co-Operation Programme
There is a potential for increasing the student mobility between Norway and South Africa. Currently a pilot programme is underway, which will finance scholarships for South African students enrolled in Master’s degree programmes at their home institutions to take courses in Norway as part of their degree. The cooperating Norwegian institution has to offer international courses in areas that are of interest and relevance for the South African institution, and considered to be strategically important for the cooperation between the institutions. An equivalent number of students from the cooperating Norwegian institution will likewise take up study in South Africa. This will be made possible by an existing agreement between NORAD and the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU) through a pilot phase of the programme for the years 2006-2007. The total budget is NOK 3 million.
In 2000 Norway signed an agreement with the South African Department of Education to establish SANTED (the South African National Tertiary Education Development Programme).
On 22 November 2001 a Research Cooperation Agreement was signed between, on the one hand, NORAD and, on the other, the Department of Arts, Culture Science and Technology, the Department of Education and the National Treasury. The implementing agencies of the Agreement were respectively the Research Council of Norway and the Research Foundation of South Africa.
The support for research cooperation under NUFU programme was then phased out parallel to the phasing in of the new Programme under the Agreement. The purpose of the Programme was to establish long-term research cooperation through the joint funding of the research projects and to build sustainable collaboration beyond the end of the current development cooperation. The main beneficiaries were researchers and staff in both South African and Norwegian higher education and research institutions; young researchers from historically disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa; and, young women. The Programme was based on the principle of equal partnership and involved the exchange of staff (projects) and post-graduate students, exchange of scientific and technological information and documentation; organisation of joint workshops, conferences and research training courses; provision of equipment; dissemination of research findings etc. The programme will continue until the end of 2005.
During the visit to Norway in May 2002 by the then Minister of Arts and Culture, Science and Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane, an Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation was signed. The then Norwegian Minister of Education and Research, Ms Clement Kristin also visited South Africa in February 2004 and agreed with her South African counterpart to explore future areas of cooperation in scientific research in the Artic and the Antarctic.
A Science Workshop was held in South Africa in April 2005 to follow up on these commitments.
The cooperation between South Africa and Norway provides for a Masters Programm (scholarship).
During the visit to Norway, in June 2005, by the South African Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Pallo Jordan, a Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in the Fields of Arts and Culture was signed with his counterpart Ms. Valgerd Svarstad Haugland.