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Wednesday, 02 March 2011

South Africa to sign 1 bln euro development deal with France

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma will sign a one billion-euro deal with the French Development Agency during a state visit to France that could also touch on a pricey nuclear project, a minister said. The March 2-3 visit, at the invitation of President Nicolas Sarkozy, aims at deepening economic relations with the incoming leader of the G20 group of nations, as wide differences between rich and poor countries could frustrate France's hope of helping stabilise the global economy. "There are several agreements that will be signed during this visit, amongst them would be included the New Partnership Framework document for 2011-2013," Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, told reporters. France has emerged as one of several countries including South Korea whose companies have been courting South Africa as it shops for multi-billion dollar nuclear power plants that could help Africa's largest economy avoid a power crunch. French nuclear company Areva signed an agreement during Sarkozy's 2008 state visit to South Africa to boost nuclear skills development in the only African country with a nuclear power plant. Areva in 2007 also submitted a proposal to South African power utility Eskom to build several nuclear plants in a tender process later scrapped due to its steep cost. "Looking at energy security as one of the agenda points that President Zuma will discuss with President Sarkozy, the answer is yes, but this is not the only issue," Nkoana-Mashabane said.