Kuwait is a strategic role player in security and stability in the Gulf region, as well as in international energy security, the South African Ambassador said on Tuesday.
Delarey Van Tonder made the remark on the occasion of the 20-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between two countries.
Since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and Kuwait in the mid-1990s, bilateral relations have remained cordial and solid, he told KUNA in an interview.
"Kuwait performs a most constructive role as an investor on our continent and specifically South Africa where it continues to contribute to the socio economic and infrastructure development of my country," he pointed out.
"We have concluded strategic bilateral agreements and a substantial number of agreements are under consideration including the establishment of a Bilateral Joint Committee which will further consolidate and strengthen bilateral political and economic cooperation." On South Africa's relations with the Gulf States, Tonder said that these ties have also expanded significantly since the establishment of South Africa's democratic order in 1994.
"Not only is the Gulf region a substantial source of South Africa's petrochemical and crude oil requirements, the GCC countries and particularly Kuwait have become a major market for South African products especially agricultural exports, a source of tourism and investment and home to a sizeable South African expatriate community," he added.
He further said that several South African companies in the construction and engineering sectors have successfully executed major projects in the region, especially in the defence and petrochemical sectors.
Although trade and commercial relations between South Africa and Kuwait can be further expanded, Kuwait maintains a positive role as an investor with significant investment by the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) in South Africa. Kuwait's IFA Hotels and Resorts, Al-Kharafi Group and KAPIC have also invested beneficially in South Africa and the wider Southern Africa region.
"The State of Kuwait has left a positive footprint on our continent as an investment partner by contributing to Africa's sustainable socio economic development, especially through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and by its continued humanitarian support during emergencies and national disasters affecting human security on our continent," he noted.
"The historic visit of former President Nelson Mandela to the State of Kuwait in 1995 added a special dimension to our bilateral relations and impacted positively on Kuwait's constructive involvement in the economic development of the African Continent," the Ambassador said.
He added that His Highness the Amir, during his tenure as Kuwait's Foreign Minister, played a pivotal and visionary role in developing and implementing Kuwait's Africa Policy.
Since then regular high level bilateral and multilateral engagements between the two countries have contributed to strengthen cooperation in the political, economic, security and cultural spheres.
South Africa holds Kuwait in the highest esteem for successfully hosting the Africa Arab Summit in 2013 and for His Highness the Amir's strategic leadership in resolving conflict and promoting regional unity and cohesion.
On Tourism, he said that it is one of the fastest growing sectors of South Africa's economy. South Africa's world class tourism infrastructure, cultural diversity, pleasant climate, breathtaking scenery and magnificent wild and marine life have made it one of the most popular leisure travel destinations to millions of visitors globally; at least 13 million visitors travelled to South Africa in 2013.
"Kuwaiti residents are invited to experience a unique and inspiring African destination which will touch all senses and where South Africa's friendly people, natural heritage and rich cultures will warm your heart," he concluded.