The provincial Government of the Eastern Cape and the Government of the German Federal State of Lower Saxony on 20 October signed a Joint Declaration of Intent in Bhisho to foster socio-economic development, foreign investment, and cooperation in areas of technology, sport, HIV/AIDs and tourism in their respective Provinces. The Premier, Phumulo Masualle, and Deputy Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Stefan Wenzel, signed the Declaration to renew the Twinning Agreement and to celebrate the 20 years of successful bilateral relations between their provinces.
In a discussion with the Representative of the State of Lower Saxony in the Eastern Cape, Lars Koenig stated how the partnership between these two provinces support knowledge transfer and exchange expertise to improve governance and strengthen institutional capacity for service delivery of local and provincial government.
“I have been here for three years and my responsibility is to coordinate all the projects between the two provinces. The backbone of the partnership is the International Voluntary Service sports exchange programmes between the Landessportbund Niedersachsen and the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, where athletes, coaches and team officials exchange different techniques and opinions on how to improve competing with each other, “ said Koenig.
“Through the 34 volunteers from ASC Göttingen, the kids keep away from drugs and trouble after school and during holidays, as they get involved in competitions and learn to focus on sport,“ he added.
The Declaration includes cooperation on socio-economic development, where it is envisioned that provinces should maintain direct contact between their business enterprises, institutions and associations, with an emphasis on areas of port industries and large container shipping, the promotion of bilateral trade, investment and tourism, and geo-data infrastructure.
In the agriculture and rural development areas the provinces will exchange technical support on research results in agriculture, rural development, veterinary services and extension services. They will continue exchange programmes between the provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in Lower Saxony.
“In the education and science area our plan is to maintain support and cooperation between vocational schools, Further Education and Training (FETs) colleges and universities, “ said Koenig.
There are projects that started last year for climate change and environmental management and they include areas of waste management, greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy.
“A few months ago Lower Saxony funded the East London Child and Youth Care Centre with some solar panels and one bio-digester to help reduce the cost of energy, “ said Koenig. “So three things are being achieved through this project – reduction of energy costs, climate impact and education of kids and workers on how to work with the bio-digesters.”
Another broad project is the cooperation on communicable diseases where network meetings between the Eastern Cape AIDs Council (ECAC) and the Lower Saxony Aids Advisory Service will be organised. Exchanging knowledge and research results, and capacitating health professionals on clinical management of HIV/Aids, TB, and Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR TB), will be of importance. – Tracy Mashinge-Jeche