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Jun 22, 2012

German trade fairs organiser brings infrastructure convention to SA

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"More and more international companies are looking closely at South Africa, and other areas within the sub-Saharan Africa region, so there are big chances for further development – Andreas Luttmann"
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Germany-based trade fairs organiser Deutsche Messe is launching its first-ever event in South Africa in September.

The International Infrastructure & Invest Convention (IIIC) will focus on African infra- structure projects, and will cover a range of sectors including energy, transport, water, and information and communication technology.

A number of exhibitors from around the world will also be showcasing their products and services.

“The event will offer an overview of all the core infrastructure project areas and serve as a platform for export-oriented companies to present their experience and find new business leads,” Deutsche Messe managing member Dr Andreas Gruchow told Engineering News in May last year.

The event was initially scheduled to take place in May and was originally named Africa Infrastructure, but Deutsche Messe and Hannover Fairs International, a subsidiary of the trade fairs organiser, decided to host the event within the framework of Electra Mining Africa, South Africa’s largest trade exhibition, which will take place at the Nasrec Expo Centre, in Johannesburg, on September 12 and 13.

The IIIC’s integration into Electra Mining was a result of Deutsche Messe and Hannover Fairs International identifying a close relation between infrastructure and mining, especially in South Africa.

“If the mining industry wants to continue to develop in South Africa, there needs to be a proper infrastructure support base,” says Hannover Fairs International GM Andreas Luttmann. “That’s why we think it’s a good move to have those topics at the same time, on the same fairground,” he adds.

Exhibition space for Electra Mining was already fully booked when Deutsche Messe decided to merge with the exhibition. Never- theless, the company found an area at Nasrec to host its conference to develop the topic even further.

“With this first event, we want to gain important experience that we can use to expand our business in the region further,” says Gruchow. Because of limited space, the IIIC will not be able to host more than 50 exhibitors. The participants will exhibit using small booths, instead of displaying big machinery.

However, Luttmann is confident about the future success of the convention. “This is just the first step and we want to develop this infrastructure project further with our partners – [exhibition organiser] Specialised Exhibitions, which facilitates Electra Mining Africa, and the Southern African–German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAGCC),” he says.

He adds that the topics the IIIC will cover are conveniently positioned within the context of Electra Mining, because of the high demand for infrastructure investment in energy, transporta- tion, water and telecommunications – industries driving the South African economy.

Deutsche Messe predicts that about €86-billion (about R917-billion) will be invested in South Africa during the next three years and says that much of Africa’s current infrastructure spending remains directly related to invest- ment in energy and mining.

The Federal Republic of Germany foreign trade and inward investment agency, Germany Trade and Invest, reports that up to 17 800 MW will be fed into the energy grid from renewable resources by 2030.

As a result, the IIIC will cover a range of possible alternatives to existing nonrenewable energy resources, which will be of interest to South Africa.

Luttmann believes the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant incident influenced the country to consider alternative options to nuclear energy.

He seems positive about the prospect of finding alternatives to nonrenewable energy sources in South Africa, noting that there are relatively few limitations when it comes to using renewable energy in the country.

The IIIC will also consider transportation in South Africa, and what needs to be accomplished in that sector to secure further development in the mining industry.

“There are discussions under way about transport corridors connecting South Africa and important locations in South Africa, with other areas in the sub-Saharan Africa region,” says Luttmann, citing this as another possible topic that will be discussed at the convention. “We will be looking at transport in terms of enabling further economic development,” he adds.

Deutsche Messe predicts that transportation in Southern Africa will expand in the next few years as a result of billions of rands in investment. This includes public transport such as rapid bus transport systems, and the upgrade of railway lines with signal technology.

Luttmann also notes that from Germany’s point of view, there could be more development in several industries in South Africa. “The money and the budget are out there, but what is missing is the right know-how of investment strategies, and knowing in which areas to invest. This is something we would like to discuss at the conference.”

He is positive about these discussions leading to valuable input, which will benefit everyone involved in South African infrastructure development.

IIIC Overview
Deutsche Messe expects about 200 delegates to attend the two-day event, which will include an opening ceremony, speeches, panel discussions and workshops. Luttmann is optimistic about the conference, and confident that the speakers will be of a high calibre, especially because of the help and support the company has received from the SAGCC, which introduced Deutsche Messe to the South African market.

The SAGCC helped the company locate the fairground for the conference, as well as find potential partners. “The chamber has been our arm into South Africa and our official representative for years. It also facilitates incoming business from South Africa to shows in Hannover,” says Luttmann.
Deutsche Messe has recently started marketing exhibition space for the IIIC, but expects significant participation from Spain, as it has partners there promoting the event.

In terms of the number of visitors Luttmann expects to visit the IIIC, he says the convention will benefit from Electra Mining’s captured market and adds that Deutsche Messe aims to attract an additional target group, comprising decision-makers in the infrastructure sector from public and private entities.

“More and more international companies are looking closely at South Africa and other areas in the sub-Saharan Africa region, so there are big opportunities for further development,” says Luttmann, who believes the conference is at exactly the right time for those wanting to take advantage of the possibilities Southern Africa has to offer.

He also highlights that Deutsche Messe will try to gather a range of people to participate in the convention, from politicians and decision-makers to public entities and private companies that are able to provide state-of-the-art technologies, as well as investors.

“Once we have succeeded in having these groups at the IIIC, it’s already a good step towards further development in infrastructure as a whole. From there, we would like to develop our show and conference further with the feedback we get from this year’s convention,” he concludes.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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