19 November 2012 Ireland views Africa as a future economic giant, and South Africa as a key gateway to the continent, visiting Irish Trade and Development Minister Joe Costello told journalists in Cape Town on Thursday. Costello last week led the largest ever Irish trade mission – a group of 57 business leaders – to South Africa. Speaking at a joint media briefing with South African Deputy International Relations Minister Marius Fransman, Costello said Ireland wanted to improve economic, investment and social ties with South Africa. He said that the overall Irish economic investment in South Africa was substantial. Presently, 180 Irish companies were doing business in South Africa. Last year, 25 000 Irish tourists arrived in South Africa. “Yesterday I announced a R500-million investment by an Irish company in wind and solar farms, as well as an investment in Vodacom. We want to see investment as a two-way process,” Costello added. Earlier, Costello and Fransman held talks under the auspices of the South African-Ireland Partnership Forum, established in 2004 to stimulate meaningful cooperation between the two countries. Fransman said South Africa believed its partnership with Ireland should be to the advantage of itself, the Southern African Development Community, as well as Africa. South Africa, he said, would engage Ireland on energy and climate change, a phenomenon that would no doubt affect agriculture in Africa. Earlier last week, Ireland gained a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. “We will reflect with Ireland on some of the difficult challenges facing the world. Your seat will advance the interest of human rights in the world,” said Fransman. South Africa also congratulated Ireland on its forthcoming assumption of the European Union (EU) presidency in January. The two ministers agreed that the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment remained acute in South Africa. They were also concerned about the food crisis in Lesotho and its potential to cause a humanitarian crisis, and committed to helping Lesotho ease its food crisis. Ireland will also be assisting South Africa with a skills development programme, which will include the establishment of a fellowship programme to help South Africans who want to conduct post-graduate studies in Ireland. Source: SANews.gov.za
The moment one steps inside the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, it becomes obvious that one is in a cricket-mad nation.Hanging from the ceiling is a huge red banner that reads “20 times the welcome”, followed by the flags of the participating nations and the West Indies Cricket Board and Cricket Ireland.The ICC World Twenty20 that begins on Tuesday is indeed the flavour of the island nation, and cardboard cut-outs of the Sri Lankan cricketers adorn the entire 35km stretch of the road between the airport and the city centre.People from all walks of life are discussing Sri Lanka’s prospects of finally breaking the jinx of finishing runners-up in two successive ODI World Cups and the 2009 World T20, and they’ll get the opportunity to see how well their heroes have prepared on the opening day when they take on Zimbabwe in Hambantota on Tuesday.Sri Lanka is one of the toughest places to tour, not just because of the conditions but also the home team’s mastery over them.Featuring the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, ICC Cricketer of the Year Kumar Sangakkara, captain Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis, there is no doubt they will be among the favourites for the title.However, the fourth edition promises to be the most open in the short history of the World Twenty20, with six to seven teams of the 12 looking strong on paper.An overkill of India-Sri Lanka matches in the past few years hasn’t reduced the fans’ eagerness to see the superstars from the neighbouring country in action, with Monday’s India-Pakistan warm-up match being a talking point for many here.advertisementIndia’s batting looks capable enough with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni showing form in the two warm-up games, as Monday’s performance showed, the bowlers will need to step it up a few notches.Pakistan look strong, especially after their build-up series win against Australia, but inconsistency remains their Achilles heel.Sri Lanka’s Group C mates South Africa are the other contenders for the ‘favourites’ tag.They have got together a squad that has hardly any chinks, but the other ‘C’ word- choking that they will need to lay to rest.West Indies players have often been accused of being Twenty20 mercenaries, but their best lineup can give any team nightmares about facing them.Big-hitting stars like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are expected to be backed up well by the all-round capabilities of Andre Russell and the ICC’s Emerging Player of the Year, mystery spinner Sunil Narine.The Australians and the English can never be discounted either, no matter how fragile their new-look sides may seem on paper.The format is one that is imprinted on the mind of every Indian cricket fan like a recurring nightmare since the first round exit in the 2007 ODI World Cup- four groups of three teams each leading into Super Eights- and one mistake can draw curtains on the big teams’ campaigns.Three factors that each team will need to take into account are the pitches, which aren’t expected to be as spinner friendly as usual; the weather, which is expected to be fickle over the next week or so; and the improved ability of countries like Bangladesh and Ireland to cause upsets.