The International Co-operation, Trade and Security (ICTS) cluster of South African Ministries says they is forging ahead with their vision to "Create a better South Africa, contribute to a better and safer Africa in a better world".

Among others, the cluster is contributing to peacekeeping on the continent as well as maintaining its current commitments in line with the decisions of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), says Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.

From tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Lesotho to South Sudan, Pretoria is prioritizing its relations with fellow African nations and ensuring that there is peace in these sister countries, Molewa, who chairs the cluster, told a media briefing here Tuesday.

"We are all aware that our collective destiny is inextricably linked to the fortunes of the African continent, and we will in the year ahead continue to play an active role in continental and global affairs.

She was updating the media on the progress made in the implementation of the cluster's Programme of Action (PoA) towards achieving the goals of South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030.

Molewa said South Africa would continue to participate in the UN Peace Support Operation in the DRC, noting that the South African National Defence Force was supporting the DRC armed forces with training as well as assisting with the implementation of their military strategy.

In Mozambique, South Africa is involved in anti-piracy operations to help curb the increasing levels of piracy along the Mozambican Channel which have been reported while in Lesotho, the cluster was promoting peace and stability in the Mountain Kingdom.

As for regional integration, the cluster was prioritizing relations with fellow African states in line with African Union Agenda 2063. "We see regional and trade integration as a major building block for continental unity," Molewa said.

Since the cluster's last briefed the media, President Jacob Zuma had actively engaged his counterparts in cementing bilateral relations with Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana, she said.

"The engagements were about evaluating how far we have come with regards to the regional integration programme. Under consideration is integrated infrastructure development programmes in amongst others, sectors of water, roads and energy, the movement of goods and services, evaluating trade flows, as well as the movement of people which includes skills capacity sharing and development."

She also reported that in order to promote regional integration, the cluster committed to continue using the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) as it remains an important instrument for industrialisation and economic development.

The SACU is the world's oldest customs union with the primary goal of promoting economic development through regional trade. It consists of five member countries -Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa.

In order to advance the implementation of the regional development and integration agenda, President Zuma, in his current capacity as chair of the SACU Summit, conducted working visits to the other SACU member states to unlock cross-border infrastructure, address supply-side capacities and promote industrial development and value chains to stimulate regional growth and development

Pretoria also supported operation of the Tripartite Free Trade area involving the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC).

The Tripartite Initiative is aimed at strengthening the economic integration of the southern and eastern Africa region. It is envisaged that it will serve as a building block for the Continental Free Trade Area.

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade agreement provides preferential market access for South African products to a market of approximately 700 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of some 2.0 trillion US dollars.

As part of regional trade cooperation, Trade Invest Africa was launched in July 2016 to facilitate the implementation of an outward investment-led trade strategy into the rest of Africa. In addition, agreements that promote economic cooperation on industrial and infrastructure development with other African countries, have also been negotiated.