I am delighted to welcome you to the website of the Embassy of Ireland in South Africa. It is a privilege for me to represent Ireland in a country where our historical ties are so strong. The connections between our two countries date back many centuries when Irish people first migrated to Southern Africa and, more recently, when South Africans found refuge in Ireland during the struggle against apartheid.
The bilateral relationship between Ireland and South Africa is based on a strong foundation of solidarity and partnership. We share a commitment to human rights, multilateralism and universal values enshrined in the UN conventions and mandates. Our values and our commitment to international norms ensure that there are many opportunities for cooperation at an international level particularly at the UN where South Africa is currently serving on the Security Council and where Ireland is a candidate for a seat in 2021/2022.
In addition to this strong political relationship, there is a vibrant economic and trade relationship. My team and I are committed to growing trade and investment in the coming years and to encouraging more Irish businesses to explore the market and establish businesses here. The Embassy supports networking though Business Ireland Southern Africa and is available to provide advice to Irish companies interested in entering the market. Enterprise Ireland also has an office in Johannesburg, South Africa and has a wealth of knowledge to support client companies.
The Embassy is working with South Africa to grow and develop the skills of its most important resource, the young women and men of South Africa. Through our Kader Asmal Fellowship Programme, we offer South Africans the opportunity to study to Masters level in Ireland. Our universities are actively engaged in research partnerships and student exchange and we are committed to supporting this further in the coming years.
Both Ireland and South Africa boast a rich culture and heritage. I look forward to welcoming Irish artists and writers in the coming years to share this wealth with counterparts in South Africa. There are well established relationships between community arts organisations in Ireland and South Africa and I hope these go from strength to strength during my term.
There is a large Irish diaspora living in South Africa which the Embassy serves through our consular services and through cultural and business networking activities. I encourage you to register with the Embassy to keep abreast of activities and events that the Embassy sponsors.
The Embassy is accredited to Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Lesotho and Botswana and the South Africa Development Community (SADC). I am committed to promoting cordial relations and fostering mutual understanding between Ireland and each of these countries. This aim is greatly supported by the longstanding presence of so many Irish citizens as integral members of the community in their adopted homes. Our work is assisted by the activity of Irish associations and the tremendous contribution of Irish religious organisations and NGOs in our countries of accreditation.