Johannesburg has started to share information and ideas with Shenzhen, of China, in a bid to improve trade and economic relations.
City of Johannesburg director of trade and investment Reginald Pholo says the two cities are the economic hubs of their respective countries.
“We are collaborating with Shenzhen to see how they manage special economic zones to improve these in Johannesburg,” he states.
“Johannesburg provides very lucrative business opportunities for Shenzhen and South Africa is our largest export country. We plan to extend services between the two cities and make the relationship more dynamic,” states China consul general Li Jiangning.
Shenzhen has a gross domestic product (GDP) of $85-million per square kilo- metre. The city has a modern industrial system, which features a high aggregate value of the city’s high-tech, finance, logistics and culture industries. These account for more than 60% of its GDP.
Shenzhen is also the high-tech hub of China, with bioscience, software, and new energy, information and communication technology. These industries’ output value increased by 38% last year.
Jiangning notes that Shenzhen is home to many traditional industries with strong growth momentum, such as garments, jewellery, timepieces, furniture, leather, arts and crafts, printing and toys.
“These products enjoy high market shares in China and abroad,” he says.
Shenzhen is an important base for manufacturing and export trade in China, offering global consumers diverse purchasing choices. Multinationals such as IBM, B&Q (previously known as Block & Quayle) and Metro have set up procurement centres in the city.
The city’s export volume was $245-billion in 2011 and its import volume exceeded $168-billion.
Financial institution KPMG reports that, according to forecasters, the African economy is expected to increase by 5% in the next 18 months and its GDP is likely to hit $2.6-trillion by 2020.
The continent has the fastest-expanding labour force in the world as there are more than 500-million people of working age and it is expected to be about 1.1-billion by 2040, which is more than China’s or India’s.
KPMG has identified three main areas of opportunity in Africa, namely infrastructure, resources and consumer demand. Rapid urbanisation demands that governments and cities become globally competitive and the biggest requirements are power, transportation, hospitals and schools.
The current expenditure on infrastructure is half of what it should be, so there is ample opportunity for the private sector to invest.
Consumer demand for Africa’s mining and agricultural resources is increasing. In 2000, there were 11-million cellphone users but today there are 400-million.
Pholo says Johannesburg will bene- fit from its collaborations with Shenzhen and the two cities will become leading trade partners.