SA extends credit to Cuba

2010-12-07 18:18

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said that a R210m credit line package had been finalised for Cuba in an effort to boost economic ties with the country.

"One aspect of the package is the extension of credit guarantees to Cuba, to the value of R70m," Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery at the SA-Cuba business forum in Havana on Tuesday.

"This facility from our government's Export Credit Insurance Corporation will insure South African suppliers for exports to Cuba. The modalities of this, including the products, coverage and other issues are being finalised at a technical level," he said.

Zuma also announced a R40m contribution towards reconstructive efforts of Cuban agriculture following a destructive hurricane in 2008.

"We will also make available R100m from our African Renaissance Fund for purchases from South Africa. These facilities will help us remedy a worrying situation as South African exports to Cuba had fallen from R82m in 2008 to only R1m this year," he said.

South Africa offered promising investment opportunities in areas like automotive components, capital equipment, aerospace, chemicals, agro-processing and ICT, Zuma said.

"We would also like to bring to your attention our massive infrastructure development programme, on which South Africa will spend more than $100bn over the next three years. Cuban companies and skilled personnel can explore opportunities in this programme."

Zuma acknowledged the deployment of more than 400 Cuban professionals to the architecture, engineering, medical and technical industries in South Africa.

"Cuban doctors have for many years provided service to people in need," he said.

"Of significant importance is the training of our young people as medical professionals, through Cuba's generous offer of eighty scholarships each year," he said.

"Through this programme, more than 500 young South Africans from impoverished communities have been given the opportunity to pursue a career in primary health care and provide a service to their communities."

Zuma praised bilateral programmes in place for health, labour, social development, housing and public infrastructure.

"We extend our gratitude to President Raul Castro Ruz for the outstanding hospitality extended to us, and also the discussions we have had which will take our relations forward."