“The partnership will go a long way in assisting to build skills through innovation and technology”
THE CITY of Kimberley has strengthened its ties with China after the Sol Plaatje Municipality signed a twin city agreement with a Chinese delegation from Changsha Municipal People’s Government yesterday.
Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo, together with the vice mayor of Changsha City, Qui Jixing, met to engage on a bilateral agreement and sign a letter of intent that will stipulate future relations between both cities.
It is hoped that the twinning agreement will see the Sol Plaatje Municipality, through sustainable development, benefit from a city such as Changsha City, which has a population of more than seven million residents and a large gross domestic product.
Jixing yesterday extended an invitation to an engineering expo that will take place in May. As a sister city, the Sol Plaatje Municipality has also been invited to the International Africa Trade, where a delegation from the city will have the opportunity to promote their goods and services in order to grow the local economy and end unemployment and poverty.
“The partnership will go a long way in assisting to build skills through innovation and technology,” Mabilo remarked.
“We have to grow different sectors of our economy with new factories and manufacturing companies that will develop export capacity and promote decent jobs. The municipality will creatively look at engaging business in the city to be part of the delegation. There are good lessons to be learnt from Changsha City and through this partnership we can promote and grow our city.”
This is not the first Chinese city that the Sol Plaatje Municipality has signed a twinning agreement with.
A number of years ago, a former city mayor, Agnes Ntlhangula, led a 10-person municipal delegation to Hunan at a cost of R900 000. The aim of her trip was to focus on green energy and the provision of solar panels.
In April 2016, the municipality hosted a Chinese local government delegation from Chenzhou in Kimberley and during this visit the then Sol Plaatje executive mayor, David Molusi, was invited to visit Hunan.
In September of that year, a larger delegation of business and government officials from China were invited to visit the Northern Cape by the provincial government.
This visit, which took place in September 2016, cost city ratepayers almost half-a-million rand, which was used to purchase flags and banners, presents and translation booths for the one day that the city was asked to host the visitors. The expenditure included 300 wooden corporate gifts.
During the visit, a twinning agreement between the Sol Plaatje Municipality and the Municipality of Chenzhou was signed.
Part of the agreement was for the development of two Sino-Africa Jewellery Industry Zones, one located in China’s Chenzou High and New Tech Industry Development District, while the Sol Plaatje Municipality was tasked with earmarking premises for the local development in the city.
It was stated that the zone would be a combination of jewellery processing, display and sales facilities.
The local municipality’s main involvement in the initiative was to source raw and semi-processed mineral material from the area and make property available for the project with an eye on developing the sector.
It was also agreed that within a year of signing the final agreement, the Chenzou Municipality would advance 170 million Chinese yuan (roughly R80 million) for the project.
A total of 100 youths from the local community were also due to be trained in jewellery making.
It was also hoped the Sol Plaatje University would benefit from the alliance with China, with students and academia travelling to the Asian country.
Responding to media enquiries at the time about the progress of the agreement with the City of Chenzou, the municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said that such agreements by nature were complex and their implementation also involved other stakeholders like National Treasury, which could take some time.