Strong bonds provide for close cooperation between Norway and South Africa
Representing the northernmost and southernmost tip of their respective continents, Norway and South Africa are far apart geographically. Yet, our two countries have a close relationship and share fundamental values.
We both believe in the importance of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. And we both recognize the need for international cooperation and multilateral institutions. With South Africa as a current member of the UN Security Council, and Norway aspiring for a vacant seat there from January next year, we have a lot to talk about.
Relations between Norway and South Africa have deep historical roots. From whaling, shipping and small-scale industrialization more than hundred years ago, Norway’s engagement with South Africans’ struggle for democracy grew particularly strong during the decades leading up to the country’s transition to majority rule in 1994. I am proud of the role Norway played in providing political, financial and moral support during the struggle against apartheid.
The common ground between our two countries provides for a good dialogue and extensive cooperation today in many areas, both politically and economically. I am also pleased to see the interest that members of the Norwegian royal family take in South Africa. Several visits have taken place over the years, both officially and in a private capacity.
Lately the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has, for obvious reasons, taken centre stage in the communication between our two governments. Norway is concerned about the economic impact of the pandemic for countries in Africa, and is pushing for an international response to secure necessary funds and equitable access to a future vaccine. International solidarity and international cooperation are key to ensuring recovery.
Trade between our countries is increasing, and many Norwegian companies are active in South Africa. The Norwegian government’s sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, has invested the equivalent of around 100 billion rands in South African stocks and bonds. Our research institutions are engaged in joint projects.
The political dialogue is in some areas supported by development cooperation. Norway’s direct contribution to South Africa was around 110 million rands in 2019, not counting support through multilateral institutions, funds, and programmes. Together, Norway and South Africa are working to realize the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Other topics that are high on the agenda for our dialogue are climate change, environment, and ocean management. Both countries recognize that global challenges require global solutions. We are also both committed to increasing the use of environmentally friendly energy, strengthen energy efficiency and develop new technological solutions that will ensure a cleaner energy production.
Norway and South Africa have a strong and direct cooperation regarding peace and conflict resolution, in particular related to women’s role in solving conflicts between and within countries, and in building a sustainable peace. Our respective Foreign Ministers have a personal engagement in these efforts. And together, we continue to extend and expand our bilateral relations, building on strong bonds that have developed over time.