As part of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s policy of promoting closer ties with African nations, minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, embarks on a journey to five nations there this week.
Amorim will sign technical cooperation agreements in the areas of health, agriculture and education. He will also discuss other agreements and the political future.
Amorim’s tour may be preparatory for another Lula visit to Africa. According to Amorim, in an exclusive Agência Brasil interview, Lula has said he would like to return to Africa this year (he was there in 2004).
“One reason for a new trip would be to follow up on projects set in motion during the first Lula trip. For example, in Cabo Verde,” explained Amorim.
The Foreign Minister will begin his trip in Cabo Verde where he will sign cooperation agreements for the second phase of a literacy program (Alfabetização Solidária), studies on a tuition-free public university and an AIDS/HIV combat program.
Amorim’s second stop will be in Guinea Bissau where he will sign another agreement on AIDS and visit the future installations of a Professional Training Center.
During meetings with authorities one of the topics of discussion will be the problem of local political instability.
In a pioneer initiative, a kind of Third World (or South-South) self-help project, Brazil has joined India and South Africa (the group is known as Ibas) in supporting international backing for stabilization assistance.
“Guinea Bissau has been troubled with instability. Brazil has sought assistance from the international community and seeks to keep such assistance flowing. This is the first Ibas project, so it is important,” explained Amorim.
In Senegal and Nigeria, the minister will sign agricultural agreements that will enable those countries to combat crop plagues and increase farm production.
With a similar climate, Brazil is able to provide assistance for specific crops, such as cassava, wheat, rice and tropical fruits.
“In Senegal we played an important role in helping them with a locust plague. Our assistance is practical and useful. We also want to see if they can increase production,” said Amorim.
In Nigeria, Brazil will be negotiating with a petroleum producer where Petrobras is present and able to offer its experience with refining, production and distribution. “We can go beyond technical cooperation to economic cooperation,” said the minister.
Amorim will end his African trip in Cameroon where he will inaugurate the new Brazilian embassy. He will also sign a technical cooperation agreement for the production of cacao, a natural product of Cameroon.
“We already have a history of cooperation with these countries. But the fact is that we are embarking on new projects in Africa all the time as part of our global policy agenda,” concluded the minister.
Translation: Allen Bennett