Nepal and Republic of South Africa established diplomatic relations on 28 July 1994. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established shortly after the apartheid system in South Africa was dismantled and a new Government of National Unity (GNU) headed by President Nelson Mandela came to power in May 1994.
The relations between the two countries have remained warm, cordial and excellent, marked by equality, mutual trust, deeper understanding, strong bonds of friendship and solidarity and growing interaction. As an active member of the United Nations system, Nepal persistently and vigorously opposed the policy of racial segregation followed by the then government of South Africa and thus played an active role in the United Nations and other international fora in support of abolition of apartheid system in South Africa. Shortly after taking the membership of the UNO in 1955, Nepal served as a Member of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid since its inception in 1962 and as a Vice Chair of the Committee for 25 years starting in 1969 until the Committee was disbanded in 1994. As a Member and later Vice Chair of the Committee, Nepal kept herself actively engaged in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. South African Government, the political leadership as well as the people commend the role Nepal played in the UN in support of democratic governance in South Africa.
Both Nepal and South Africa are active members of Non Alignment Movement (NAM). At the United Nations and other international fora, Nepal and South Africa share common values and hold similar views on issues relating to the promotion of peace, democracy, human rights and right to development of developing countries. The bilateral relations have been consolidated further through the exchange of bilateral visits. Various visits from Nepal have also been focused on learning from the successful and exemplary model South African model of Truth and Reconciliation process adopted in the post-Apartheid South Africa. Nepal’s new Constitution written through the process of Constituent Assembly and promulgated on 20th September 2015 has provided for some provisions which are similar to that of South African Constitution and Bill of Rights, which have remained inspirational sources for various study-visits to South Africa undertaken by the Nepali political and official delegations during the writing phase as well as in the aftermath of the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal with a view to learning from South African successful practices.
Shortly after establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and until the opening of Nepali Embassy in Pretoria in 2010, the Ambassador of Nepal with residence in Cairo, Egypt was concurrently accredited to the Republic of South Africa while High Commission of South Africa in New Delhi was concurrently accredited to Nepal. As per the decision of the Government of Nepal (on 24 June 2009), Nepal established her Embassy in Pretoria on 10 February 2010 wherein Mr. Arun Prasad Dhital was appointed as the first residential Ambassador of Nepal to the Republic of South Africa. Having reviewed its concurrent accreditation to Nepal, South Africa later decided to concurrently accredit its High Commission in Colombo also to Nepal in place of previous arrangement whereby South African High Commission in New Delhi was concurrently accredited to Nepal.
Nepal – South African bilateral relations have been further consolidated by various visits. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, a number of high level delegations from Nepal have visited South Africa. The then Prime Minister of Nepal Rt. Hon. Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala visited South Africa in September 1998 to participate in the XII Summit of the Non-Alignment Movement held in Durban. Then Speaker of the House of the Representatives Rt. Hon. Mr. Taranath Ranabhat participated in the Inter-Parliamentary Meeting of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg from August 29 to 30, 2002. The then Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs as well as Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Madhav Prasad Ghimire, paid an official visit of South Africa on December 08, 2013 leading a Nepali delegation to participate in the Memorial Assembly organized by the Government of South Africa and express solidarity of the people and Government of Nepal to the people and the Government of South Africa at passing away of the Nobel laureate H.E. Mr. Nelson Rolihalahla Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa.
Similarly from South Africa, Her Excellency Ms. Nomaindiya C. Mfeketo, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) of South Africa, leading an eight-member high-level delegation paid a working visit to Nepal from 20 to 22 August 2015. This was and is the first-ever high-level visit from South Africa to Nepal since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The visit was mainly aimed at underlining the importance which South Africa attaches to its bilateral relations with Nepal and to demonstrate South Africa’s resolve to strengthen and broaden political, economic and commercial interaction with Nepal. Prior to this, the first-ever official-level visit to Nepal from South Africa was led by H.E. Dr. Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director-General at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DRICO) of South Africa in June 2012. Both countries are now working towards exchanging more visits at higher political levels.
Humanitarian cooperation from South Africa to Nepal at the earthquake in Nepal, 2015
The devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015 brought about untold misery with the irreparable loss of human lives totaling around 9000 people and damage to properties. In the aftermath of the difficult hour of earthquake, Nepal received generous humanitarian support as and solidarity from the Government as well as the people of the Republic of South Africa. The Government of Nepal, the people including the victims of earthquake, are grateful to the Government and the people of South Africa, the civil society, charity and business entities and various organizations including the Gift of the Givers Foundation for their prompt and warm response with humanitarian support including rescue and medical support and monetary donation extended towards the earthquake victims of Nepal at the hours of need.
The bilateral trade and economic interaction between Nepal and South Africa is growing from strength to strength every year as evidenced by the incremental trade volumes as well as growing interest of business community to expand and diversify the existing pattern of trade and cooperation for the mutual benefits of both countries. Even though the progress trend is incremental, not a dramatic one, there are many other opportunities that exist between these two countries to fully explore from both sides. One of such areas could be mining expertise of South Africa which can be harnessed for developing potential enormous mineral resources available in Nepal. There is enough scope for further cultivating relations in the fields of trade, tourism, investment and education among others.
South African Investment in Nepal:
According to the statistics of the Department of Industry of Nepal (DOI), as of 2014/15 (2070/71 B.S), the Department of Industry has granted approval for the establishment and operation of 2 industries and 7 projects in Nepal by the South African nationals with a total investment commitment of about NRS. 87.3 million (USD 0.85 million) with the creation or possibility of creation of 253 jobs in Nepal. (Source: http://www.doind.gov.np/index.php/publications/industry-statistics)
Tourism and people to people level cooperation:
South Africa, with a population of around 56 million (according to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) 2016), can be a big potential source for Nepal’s tourism. It could generate more outbound tourists in the coming years due to increment in middle income class people and their growing interest as well as capacity to travel abroad. According to South African Tourism statistics, 2015, about 5.4 million South Africans travelled abroad that year, while about 9 million foreign travelers visited South Africa mostly for tourism purpose. South African tourists, traditionally, used to prefer visiting neighboring African countries and Europe. However, this trend is changing as many adventure tourists are looking avenues in Asia.
Nepal can naturally be a preferred choice in adventure tourism for South African tourists, especially the trekking-loving tourists and college students who mostly choose to go upto the Mt. Everest Base Camp, Annapurna, Langtang and other trekking routes in Nepal. The Embassy is also working in promoting Nepal in South Africa and creating awareness that Nepal is safe destination for tourism. After about a year of recession in tourism in Nepal due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015 in which year only about 800 South Africa tourists visited Nepal (mostly in the first 4 months of the year), the number of South African tourists visiting Nepal has increased from about 1300 tourists in 2013, to about 1800 in 2016.
According to South African statistics, 2013, the number of visitors from Nepal to South Africa stood at 626 that year and in 2015 the number slightly decreased to 565, which may be attributed due to the earthquake in Nepal. Although the contact and interaction at the people to people level is yet to flourish, around 500 Nepali citizens are residing in South Africa including around 25 Nepali families of permanent residents who are mostly engaged in highly-skilled and professional medical doctors and a few of them doing business. Among the remaining ones are students studying academic course in business management, hospitality management as well as pilot training course in South Africa. A very small number of Nepali citizens are engaged in or are employed in business sectors.
There are discussions going on regarding the promotion of exchange of educational tours between Nepal and South Africa at school and college level. Some institutions of South Africa send their students to Nepal under familiarization trip, challenge trip and community serving programme with a view to give their students exposure to different environment and community abroad and boost their knowledge of other culture.
The trade between Nepal and South Africa is though small in volume, is increasing moderately. According to the statistics published by Trade and Export Promotion Center of Nepal (TEPC), Nepal exported goods worth NRS. 31,867,000 to South Africa and imported to the tune of NRS. 267,486,000 in 2007/08. Aircraft engines and parts, machinery, copper scrap, wine, juice, cloves were among the items imported from South Africa in those years. In 2014/15 while Nepal exported goods worth of around half a million USD and imported goods to the tune of over USD 33 million from South Africa, with a trade deficit of 33 million USD to Nepal. In recent years, the figure and trend of import and export vis-à-vis South Africa has been much diversified. The following table shows the balance of trade which is in favour of South Africa:
|FY||Exports from Nepal (NRS)||Value in USD|
USD 1=RS 100
|Import from SA (NRS)||Value in USD||Trade Balance (NRS)|
( 0.5 USD)
(11 million USD)
(USD ten million)
( ½ m. USD)
(over 33.4 m.)
(USD – 33 m.)
Over 0.5 M
Over 27 M
|-Over USD 26.8 m|
(Over 39 m.)
|-about USD 38.7 m|
Source: *Department of Customs, Nepal, and TEPC
The major exports from Nepal to South Africa constituted carpet and other textile floor coverings (56%), apparel and other clothing accessories (20%), tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes (14%), textiles, garments, headgears and parts, paintings, works of art, antiques and musical instruments etc. The major imports from South Africa included: mineral fuels- mineral oils and products of their distillation, bituminous substances, organic chemicals, pharmaceutical products, mineral wax (98%), beverages, spirits and vinegar, preparation of vegetables, fruits, nuts or parts of plants, rubbers and chemicals, copper scrap, salt, sulphur etc. Since 2014, South African wine ranks among the top 5 most popular imported wines in Nepal, which shows that South African wine has high potential market in Nepal where the wine-consuming community is increasing along with the increment in middle class size.
MOU/Agreements: Proposed MOU/Agreements between Nepal and South Africa:
Following bilateral agreements/MOU are in the phase of negotiation between the two countries:
- Agreement Between the Government of Nepal and the Government of the Republic of South Africa Regarding the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports.
- Declaration of Intent on Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of Nepal:
- Double Tax Avoidance Agreement: (In the process of drafting phase and yet to be proposed)
Nepal and South Africa need to work towards entering into a Double Tax Avoidance Agreement to encourage the business community and investors of both countries to do business in one another country.
From Nepal to South Africa (chronological order)
- A Nepali delegation comprising the members of Travel and Tour Operators led by the then Minister of Tourism visited South Africa in 1995 to explore the feasibility of tourism promotion in South Africa.
- The then Prime Minister Rt. Honourable Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala visited South Africa in September 1998 in order to participate in the 12thNAM Summit.
- The then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Arjun Jung Bahadur Singh visited South Africa in April 2002 to participate in the NAM Foreign Minister’s meeting held in Durban.
- The then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat visited Durban, South Africa in August 2004 leading the Nepali delegation to the XIV Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). At the same time, Dr Mahat also attended the Second Asian African Sub-regional Organizations Conference (AASROC) also held in Durban on 20 August 2004.
- Former king His Majesty Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and queen Her Majesty Komal Rajya Laxmi Shah visited South Africa on November 19-24, 2005.
- A High level Nepali delegation led by Mr. Jhala Nath Khanal, the Chairman of CPN, (UML), visited South Africa from 2-10 December 2010 to participate in the 12ndInternational Meeting of the Communist and Workers Parties held in Pretoria on 3-5 December 2010. Other delegation members included Mr. Prakash Jwala, Politburo Member of CPN, (UML) and former Member of Parliament, Prof. Dr. Krishna Chandra Sharma, Member, Foreign Affairs Department of CPN, (UML).
- A Nepali delegation led by Mr. Neelakantha Upreti, former Acting Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal visited South Africa in February 2011 on a study and observation tour of South Africa. The objective of the visit was to study and observation of the organizational structure and functioning of South Africa Independent Election Commission and of democratic elections in South Africa.
- A Nepali delegation led by Mr. Rajendra Prasad Sharma, Joint Secretary, Election Commission of Nepal comprising Mr. Sharada Prasad Trital, Joint Secretary, Election Commission of Nepal paid a study visit to South Africa from 27 February to 07 March 2011. The Nepali delegation’s main purpose was to study on Gender Mainstreaming in Electoral System in South Africa.
- A High-level Nepali delegation led by Honourable Mr. Krishna Prasad Pokharel, Member of Public Service Commission of Nepal comprising Honourable Mr. Tika Datta Niraula, Member of Public Service Commission and Mr. Shyam Prasad Mainali, Secretary of the Government of Nepal (at PSC) paid a study visit of South Africa from 21-27 November 2011. The purpose of the visit was to study and learn from the experience of South Africa in the various aspects of civil service of South Africa and organizational structure and functioning of South African Public Service Commission and to see if the practice could be replicated in federal structure of Nepal.
- A Nepali delegation from Public Service Commission of Nepal led by Mr. Nathu Prasad Chaudhary, Secretary of Government of Nepal (Public Service Commission) comprising other four members paid a week-long study visit of South Africa from 24 July 2013.
- A high-level Nepali delegation led by Honourable Mr. Mohamed Wakil Musalman, Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation (MFSC) visited South Africa from 06-13 December 2012 to participate in the 17thConference of the Parties (COP17) and Conference of the Members of the Parties to/CMP7 (under UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol) which was held from 28 November to 09 December 2011 in Durban. Other members of the delegations included Mr. Keshav Prasad Bhattarai, Secretary, (MFSC), Mr. Ram Prasad Bashyal, Joint Secretary, (MFSC), Mr. Gyanendra Karki, Mr. Shiva Aryal, Mr. Naresh Sharma and others from the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation and Ministry of Environment.
- A Nepali delegation led by Mr. Madhav Prasad Regmi, Secretary at Ministry of Defence, comprising Mr. Netra Bahadur Thapa, Major General, Nepal Army and Mr. Jonxon Khadka, Lieutenant Colonel, Nepal Army visited South Africa in 3-6 May 2012. The purpose of the visit was to inspect and interact with the concerned officials of SAAB Grintex Conmpany, which had been supplying communication system or equipment to the Nepal Army.
- A high-level Nepali delegation led by K. P. Sharma Oli, Former Hon’ble Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal and also the then Chief of Foreign Affairs Department of CPN (UML) paid a visit of South Africa from 14 – 17 July 2012. He was also the Chairman of Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO), Nepal.
- A High level Nepali delegation led by the then Acting Chief Justice Rt. Hon’ble Mr. Damodar Prasad Sharma visited South Africa from 2 to 8 August 2013. The purpose of the visit was to study and observe the Justice System and Practice in South Africa.
- The then Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs as well as Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Madhav Prasad Ghimire, paid a visit of South Africa on December 8, 2013 leading a two-member Nepali delegation to express solidarity and participate in the Memorial Assembly organized by the Government of South Africa following the passing away of Nobel laureate H.E. Mr. Nelson Rolihalahla Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa.
- A Nepali delegation led by Mr. Bishwa Prakash Pandit, Secretary at the Ministry of Education, visited South Africa from 6 to 12 July 2014. The main purpose of the visit was to study and learn from South Africa’s practice “Effective Education Delivery System”.
- A Nepali delegation led by the Hon. Mr. Girish Chandra Lal, Justice of Supreme Court, comprising District Judges and the Executive Director of Nepal Judicial Academy, Nepal and other Senior officials visited South Africa from July 28-August 2, 2014. The main purpose of the visit was to study and learn from the successful practices of the Juvenile Justice System and Victim-Witness protection system in South Africa.
- A four-member Nepali delegation led by Mr. Bhanu Prasad Acharya, the Auditor-General of Nepal, at the invitation of the Auditor-General of South Africa Mr. Thembekile Kimi Makwetu visited South Africa on a study tour from 12 August 2014 to 17 August 2014.
- A four-member Nepali delegation from Election Commission, Nepal led by Mr. Bir Bahadur Rai, Joint Secretary, visited South Africa on a study visit of Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa from 09 to 16 February 2016.
- A high-level delegation led by Hon’ble Ms. Ranju Kumari Jha, Member of Parliament as well as Chairperson, Committee on Women, Children, Senior Citizen and Social Welfare at the Legislature-Parliament paid a study-visit to South Africa from 19 to 28 September 2016 with a purpose to study and learn from the Child Right Protection System of South Africa.
- A high-level Nepali delegation from the Supreme Court of Nepal led by Honourable Mr. Baidya Nath Upadhyay, Senior-most Justice at the Supreme Court, paid a study-observation visit to South Africa from 24 to 28 October 2016. Other members of the delegation included Mr. Shreekanta Paudel, Registrar, Supreme Court, Mr. Bipul Neupane, Joint Registrar, Supreme Court, Mr. Jay Narayan Acharya, Joint Secretary, National Planning Commission, Mr. Harisharan Pudasaini, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Mr. Balkrishna Tiwari, Chief Account Controller, Supreme Court. The purpose of the study – observation visit was to study and learn from the good practices of judiciary in South Africa.
- A nine-member Nepali delegation from the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Nepal led by Mr. Ram Sharan Pudasaini, Joint Secretary (MOF) visited Republic of South Africa on a study-visit from March 8-14, 2017. The objective of the study visit was inter alia, to learn from the best practices of South Africa on: Contribution-based pension system of South Africa; Government-employee pension fund and its management; and Budget-making process and interlink of National, Provincial and Local Governments in the formulation of budget in the respective spheres of government.
- A five-member Nepali delegation from the Commission of Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) led by Hon’ble Mr. Bijul B.K. Dulal, including two other Members: Prof. Dr. Bishnu Pathak, Mr. Ai Bahadur Gurung, visited the Republic of South Africa from 13-20 March 2017 on a study visit. The objective of the visit was to learn from the successful experience of South Africa in the transitional justice and the process of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa constituted study the cases human rights violations occurred during Apartheid era in South Africa.
- A seven-member official Nepali delegation from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) of Nepal led by Mr. Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, Secretary of Government of Nepal at the OPMCM comprising Mr. Tanka Mani Sharma, Secretary of Government of Nepal at OPMCM and others visited South Africa on a study-visit from 26-31 March 2017.
From South Africa to Nepal: (chronological order)
- A three-member delegation led by H.E. Dr. Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director General and Head of Asia and Middle East Division, Department of International Relations and Coordination (DIRCO), Government of South Africa, paid an official visit to Nepal from 13-16 June 2012. This was the first official visit from South Africa to Nepal.
- A high-level delegation led by Her Excellency Ms. Nomaindiya C. Mfeketo, Honourable Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) of South Africa, (also the former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa) comprising of Dr. Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director General at DIRCO, H.E. Mr. Geoff Q.M. Doidge, South African High Commissioner accredited to Nepal (residence in Colombo) and other five members from DIRCO paid a working-visit to Nepal from 20 to 22 August 2015. This is the first ever high-level visit from South Africa so far from South Africa to Nepal since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The visit was mainly aimed at further consolidating bilateral relations between the two countries as well as underlining the importance which South Africa attaches to its bilateral relations with Nepal and to demonstrate South Africa’s resolve to strengthen and broaden political, economic and commercial interaction.