The Ambassadors of South Africa, Tanzania and Nigeria all paid courtesy visits to the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten in the month of July. The visits took place between July 16th and July 24th, 2019.
During these visits, both Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite and Acting Minister Plenipotentiary Michael Somersall engaged in discussions with the Ambassadors.
Acting Prime Minister/Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Wycliffe Smith, who at the time was on a working visit to the Netherlands was also part of the deliberations with the Ambassador of South Africa.
The courtesy visits had an exploratory nature, focussing mainly on the similarities between Sint Maarten and the African countries South Africa, Tanzania and Nigeria with interests in areas of possible future collaboration such as tourism, education, culture music and fashion. Possible trade relations were also discussed.
Ambassador Koloane of South Africa, during his visit informed the Ministers of the upcoming Jazz Festival, themed “the Joy of Jazz” and he took the liberty to propose that Sint Maarten inform and encourage her talented musicians to participate in these types of music events.
He further proposed to invite the Minister Plenipotentiary to attend one of the regular meetings of the African Ambassadors in The Hague, with the next meeting scheduled to take place in September.
The Ambassador of Tanzania Mrs. Irene Kasyanju during her visit was curious about St. Maarten’s constitutional position. Tanzania has several universities and many students study abroad.
Students often return to Tanzania to work there in various areas of (technical) expertise. However, many of them would welcome the opportunity to gain some work experience abroad. In light there-of, Minister Wuite suggested to inform each other about possibilities related to St. Maartens specific capacity challenges due to the nature of our recovery post Irma. Tanzania highlighted their development and collaboration in the Agricultural sector and Minister Wuite also considers this an area of interest.
The Ambassador of Nigeria Mr. Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa: and Mr. Kabiru Musa during their visit to the Cabinet on July 24th, 2019 indicated that his country’s protocol team had encouraged this visit, as he is the Ambassador of Nigeria to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Hence, he is currently busy planning a visit to the Dutch Caribbean countries in October of this year.
As it pertains to Sint Maarten, he mentioned their interest in the tourism industry and collaboration in the field of culture. Minister Wuite encouraged them to look into attending the SMILE event, to be held on Sint Maarten on October 25th and 26th. They were rather interested in this concept and would look into aligning their trip to the islands around this time.
A point they emphasized during their visit was their large diaspora. In fact, Nigeria has a national diaspora commission. They also mentioned their technical aid corps which consist of volunteers that are sent out for two years to assist in various countries.
The Nigerian Ambassador and his staff were very interested in the World Bank program and Minister Wuite and the cabinet agreed to further follow up on the possibilities and interest in collaboration.
Overall, the courtesy visits were very informative and Minister Wuite was thankful of the initiative and kind invitation from Ambassador Koloane and believes that various options should be explored with the Prime Minister, the Minister of TEATT and the directorate of foreign Affairs.
Once objectives are more clearly defined and possible areas have been identified regarding relations with the African nations, Minister Wuite recognizes that the shared heritage and cultural alignment can be the basis for more social economic collaboration.
PHOTO: L to R – Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Michael Somersall (2nd from left) Minister Wycliffe Smith (2nd from right), Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite (right) along with two of the African Ambassadors at the Sint Maarten House in The Hague.