08/16/13 - Cuba Standard (Tampa) - South African loan and aid package lingering
The foreign relations committee of South Africa's parliament urged the
government to implement a three-year old 350 million South African Rand
(US$41 million) aid and loan package for Cuba, one year after it was
The aid agreement was signed during a Havana visit in 2010 by President
Jacob Zuma and ratified by the South African parliament in September 2012.
An official with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
told the committee that his institution "intended seeing through" the
package, according to a press release by the parliament.
The economic assistance package consists of a 40 million Rand ($5 million)
grant for the purchase of seeds by Cuba, a 100 million Rand ($14 million)
solidarity grant, and a 210 million Rand ($24 million) credit line in two
tranches from South Africa's Export Credit Insurance Corporation, to
provide risk cover to potential South African exporters to Cuba.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and a business delegation of 18
South African companies visited Cuba last fall, to meet with officials and
visit the International Havana Fair. The delegation represented capital
equipment, electro-technical, mining, agro-processing, engineering, and
Davies said at the time that Cuba would like to borrow $11.5 million to
have the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos (INRH) buy raw material
from a South African manufacturer used for the production of water pipes in
Cuba. Once Cuba pays back this first tranche of the credit line, South
Africa will grant it the second tranche, Davies said.
As part of the 2010 agreement, the South African government agreed to
cancel $159 million worth of defaulted debt, and offered Cuban state
companies to participate in the country's $100 billion infrastructure
South African mining companies have expressed interest in Cuban nickel and
other minerals in the past, but no major investments have materialized.
More recently, a South African group of investors has financed hotel
construction in Cuba.
Meanwhile, Cuba has provided health services, as well as personnel and
logistics for workforce housing construction and construction of facilities
in the run-up of the 2010 soccer World Cup. Also, South Africa is funding
some of the healthcare programs Cuba is providing to third nations in
Africa. In May, South Africa agreed to pay for 208 Cuban doctors to be
deployed in South Africa. In addition, Cuban experts will provide support
in implementing South Africa's National Health Insurance, help overhaul the
healthcare system by refocusing on primary healthcare and streamlining
administration, improve human resources management, and help South Africa
with research and development, particularly in biotechnology.
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