The Southern African German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAGCCI) reports that it is partnering with the German-African business association Afrika-Verein to host the second German-South African Business Forum, in Cape Town, in November.
“This year, we have partnered together, compared with last year when we only supported Afrika-Verein by distributing the invitations and inviting panellists. This year, we are fully involved in organising the whole forum because we have many contacts in South Africa and want to have balanced representivity from both countries,” says SAGCCI deputy CEO Frank Aletter.
The forum aims to target businesspeople and key decision-makers by bringing them together to discuss topics such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, transport, health, infrastructure, vocational training and skills transfer, as well as promoting Germany as a business destination to its South African counterparts, he explains.
“The forum is structured by way of panels, with each panel lasting 90 minutes. This year, we have incorporated discussions led by a moderator after the presentation to start a dialogue about future business opportunities and to encourage participation from the delegates,” adds Aletter.
The SAGCCI expects about 300 delegates to participate in this year’s forum, from both Germany and South Africa.
Last year’s forum, held in Germany, focused attention on South Africa, with a video opening address by President Jacob Zuma promoting South Africa as a business destination.
Aletter believes that the presentations offered at the forum will enable key people in specialised areas to initiate relationships that will grow into the future and, hopefully, turn into viable business relationships.
The forum is hosted bilaterally between Germany and South Africa.
The SAGCCI is currently conducting a survey with its member companies about the business climate in South Africa and the influence of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. So far, almost 100% of the respondents indicate that the World Cup has given South Africa a much better image than it had before and that German companies are more enthusias- tic about establishing business relations in the country.
“The business relationship between the two countries is strong, but there is always room for growth to attract new business opportuni- ties,” he says.
Meanwhile, it seems, despite the recent strikes in the automotive and components industry in South Africa, most companies are still committed to South Africa. This might also be affected by the establishment of the Motor Industry Development Programme and its successor, the Automotive Produc- tion and Development Programme, Aletter explains.
“The strike negatively affected our members and, unfortunately, we could not assist them in any way because it was a matter between the employer and the trade unions. Most of the companies have since recovered,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the SAGCCI reports that indus- tries that hold great potential for business partnerships between Germany and South Africa include infrastructure, energy, water, transport and telecommunications, as South Africa plans to invest R846-billion in the next few years to upgrade these structures.
The chamber also reports that it will host a workshop on acid mine drainage (AMD) in November, in Johannesburg. “Germany had the same experience some years ago after the unification of the country and SAGCCI sees this as an opportunity to partner with South Africa to assist with the AMD challenge,” adds Aletter.
Under the patronage of the Federal German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, a business delegation consisting of 15 companies will come to South Africa at the end of November to explore business opportunities and strengthen partnerships with the agriculture sector.
In conclusion, SAGCCI reports that, in 2011, it will send a delegation of company representatives and government delegates to Germany to exchange knowledge and experience on the solar energy, as Germany has set an example for solar energy as a viable possibility.