MARYLAND/KWAZULU-NATAL (SOUTH AFRICA) SISTER STATES PROGRAM
The Sister States Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Maryland and the Province of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa was signed on Thursday, January 15, 2015 by Governor Martin O’Malley and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Edward Senzo Mchunu, witnessed by Maryland Secretary of State John McDonough and Chair of the Maryland-KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) Sister State Committee, Dr. Jean Bailey, Chair of the Maryland/KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). Also attending the meeting was Anna Yankova, Director of International Affairs for the State of Maryland.
AREAS OF PARTNERSHIP
The Goals of the Maryland/KZN Partnership are:
- The strengthening of friendly relations and co-operation with a view to the promotion of improved knowledge and mutual understanding between the citizens of the two regions;
- The promotion of development and co-operation and the exchange of knowledge, skills and expertise in the following fields –
- the enhancement of economic development through business, trade and investment;
- the promotion of tourism;
- agriculture development and agribusiness;
- education and training exchange programmes;
- social development exchange programmes;
- port collaboration and maritime exchange programmes;
- the exchange of heritage and cultural preservation exchange programmes, and
- sport exchange programmes;
ABOUT THE PROVINCE OF KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA
The garden province of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is a subtropical region of lush and well-watered valleys, washed by the warm Indian Ocean. One of the country's most popular tourist destinations, the province stretches from Port Edward in the south to the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique to the north. Its western part is marked by the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range, with several peaks well over 3,000 meters. The range has been awarded World Heritage status for its dramatic natural beauty and the wealth of San Bushman rock art found in its caves – the richest concentration on the continent of Africa. KwaZulu-Natal is approximately 36.5 square miles—about the size of the state of Indiana or slightly less than three times the size of the state of Maryland. It has a population of about 10.3 million people (2011 census), approximately one-fifth of South Africa’s total population making it the second most populous of the country’s nine provinces.
KwaZulu-Natal’s people belong to various ethnic groups. Peoples of black African descent, mostly Zulu, make up more than 80 percent of the population, while Asians of mostly Indian descent account for about 10 percent and whites of mostly European descent less than 10 percent. Its largest city is Durban with slightly more than 3 million people. Durban is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the world with one of the busiest harbors in South Africa and one of the 10 largest in the world. Richards Bay is one the world’s largest coal-exporting harbors.
KwaZulu-Natal’s climate varies from subtropical to temperate. Temperatures decrease from the frost-free coastal area but still remain warm. In general, summers are hot with occasional rain, while the warm, dry, and sunny winters have made the coast the principal holiday playground of Southern Africa. The higher elevations of the Drakensberg experience freezing temperatures and snow in the winter.
KwaZulu-Natal's provincial government sits in the city of Pietermaritzburg. It is governed by a unicameral legislature with 80 members. The legislature is elected every five years by a system of party-list proportional representation; by convention, they are all elected on the same day, at the same time as the National Assembly election. Edward Senzo Mchunu has served as Premier of KwaZulu-Natal since August 2014. He is a member of the African National Congress (ANC) and Provincial Chairperson of the Party in KwaZulu-Natal.
In addition to the provincial government, KwaZulu-Natal is the home to the Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. Although not holding any direct political power, the Zulu king is provided a stipend by the government. He holds considerable influence among the more traditionalist Zulu people in the province.
In addition to busy ports in Durban and Richards Bay, sugar refining is KwaZulu-Natal's main industry. Sheep, cattle, dairy, citrus fruits, corn, sorghum, cotton, bananas, and pineapples are also raised. Other industries include textile, clothing, chemicals, rubber, fertilizer, paper, vehicle assembly and food-processing plants, tanneries, and oil refineries. There are large aluminum-smelting plants at Richards Bay, on the north coast.
By entering a landmark $13.2 million deal with Eureka Capital, Dube TradePort Corporation launched a project that will give KwaZulu-Natal its own Silicon Valley by 2016. The innovation hub by Eureka Capital aims to accelerate the growth of knowledge-intensive enterprises, providing established businesses, as well as startups, with a seven-story, 231,400-foot incubation facility in the heart of Dube City, adjacent to King Shaka International Airport. The hub will bring together academics, researchers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists under one roof. The organization has developed a proven model of operating such hubs in the Middle East, USA and China.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is a leading institution of higher learning on the African continent with five campuses in the province. UKZN is classified by the national Department of Science and Technology (DST) as one of the 5 research-intensive Universities in South Africa. It has consistently been in the top 3 most research-productive universities, of the 23 universities, in terms of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s publications units output.
Other schools of higher learning include the University of Zululand which offers degrees in the Arts; Education; Commerce, Administration & Law; Education; and Science & Agriculture. The Durban Institute of Technology operates on five campuses in Durban, and two in Pietermaritzburg, offering courses in Accounting and Informatics; Applied Sciences; Arts and Design; Engineering and the Built Environment; Health Sciences; and Management Science. Mangosutho University of Technology in Durban offers courses in Engineering; Natural Sciences; and Management Sciences.
The Province of KwaZulu-Natal derives immense benefits from the tourism industry ranging from employment, foreign currency receipts and a source of livelihood to a number of households. This sector therefore remains an important economic business in the province contributing about 10% (direct and indirect) to the province’s Gross Domestic Product. Ecology tourism is increasingly important to the economy of KwaZulu-Natal. The area's rich biodiversity and efforts at conservation have been recognized. Tourists have come to see the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.