Jun 22, 2012
Global interest in Africa profound, drives chamber to open new branch in KZNBack
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“We are aligning ourselves with the second-strongest provincial economy in South Africa,” says SAGCC trade fairs department head Carryn Todd. The new branch will offer the same services as the SAGCC’s Cape Town and Johannesburg offices, including legal advice, translation services, address searches and feasibility studies on behalf of the chamber’s members.
The SAGCC has appointed Yvonne Iyer to represent the new branch. Iyer is a KZN local, who grew up in the region, to represent the new branch.
Todd says that, in the past, the chamber had perhaps been perceived as a German governmental department exclusively repre- senting the interests of German companies, but assures Engineering News that it has Southern Africa’s best interests at heart.
“The chamber continues to foster the needs of Southern African commerce initiatives and offers bilateral trade networks within Southern Africa and Germany for all Southern African businesses to access, for the benefit of their trade activities.
The Scramble for Africa
“We are taking note of the Deutscher Aktien Index-30 companies that consider penetrating Africa as the last remaining omission from their global network,” says Todd. “They have penetrated South America and the Middle East but, because Africa is such a strong emerging economy, they would now like to tap into Africa.”
The chamber has joined forces with non-profit organisation Africa Exchange to host monthly business commerce luncheons for companies interested in doing business in the SADC region.
This year, the SAGCC sent two delegations from Germany to Mozambique, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and will host a business luncheon at the chamber with the Mozambique embassy, later this month.
These events will shed light on what needs to be done in terms of business in the region with regard to the commercial terms and the process of establishing a venture, discussing the medium-term programmes of the country and what particular sectors are in focus, from agriculture, information and communications technology, to infrastructure, water and sanitation, and mining and mine-shaft rehabilitation.
The itineraries for each SADC business luncheon, held monthly at the chamber, are country-specific and in line with each country’s key performance indicators from the medium-term programmes issued by its government. “We all know that time is precious, so we’re trying to ensure that our information distribution is linked to the yearly medium-term reports issued by the different countries,” says Todd.
She also stresses that the SAGCC aims to ensure that the information sources it distributes emanate directly from the rele- vant embassies and regional investment promotion agencies.
The chamber looks at case studies of member companies that have started up businesses in countries of interest. This gives the chamber the opportunity to converse with the ambassadors or embassy representatives regarding administrative issues such as visa applications, work permits, concessions, subsidies, tax regimes and the various processes of setting up a company in any particular region, says Todd.
“We are trying to do away with the boundaries between SADC countries to facilitate smooth and enhanced business networking opportunities and share information with accurate and reliable sources,” she adds.
Todd tells Engineering News that there are many success stories of positive connections made within countries in the SADC region, citing the relationships between Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Zambia as some examples.
She says communication is currently free-flowing, which creates a trade connection between the abovementioned countries. “A very good relationship exists and for us [SAGCC], it is important to know which countries are networking,” says Todd.
She adds that the chamber is looking into forging the contacts and mentions that where a business enters one region, it is likely that it would enter into a second, or even third, spin-off benefit, if managed correctly.
“Trade fairs are a great opportunity to profile the strength of the Southern African textile industry on European platforms,” says Todd.
“Historically, the DTI supports disadvantaged SMMEs in South Africa,” says Todd, noting that South Africa is the only country in the world that fully funds an exhibitor as it steps onto the European platform.
“The DTI offers full or partial fiscal responsibility for exhibitors’ costs, such as travel expenses, shipping fees, stand costs, stand construction, print material and media packages from the German Trade Fairs department represented in each region on a case by case basis.”
In collaboration with the DTI’s support, the SAGCC facilitates business-to-business connections once the exhibitor is in Germany, scheduling buyers’ meetings and networking opportunities with potential decision-makers in the region.
“Our job is to network with our trade fair organiser contacts and to offer as much support as possible to ensure a profitable experience for the DTI-funded and privately funded exhibitors,” says Todd.
The chamber aims to reduce anxiety through knowledge and education, prepared- ness and carefully organised itineraries at the SADC and German trade fairs.
“We are trying to drop the metaphorical trade borders between regional countries and encourage communication and networking, open-door policies and information-sharing so that it’s not as intimidating for SMMEs to progress beyond the borders of South Africa.”
Todd believes that because Southern Africa is a developing economy, it requires on-the-ground networks to pursue business connections in other parts of the world, which is why the chamber actively supports member companies attending African trade shows.
“The SAGCC is the largest chamber of commerce in sub-Saharan Africa and the fact that we represent the strongest economy in Europe is a significant benefit to us,” says Todd. “This makes it possible for us to continue building relationships with ambassadors [from SADC countries] because we have proven our loyalty to the region.”
This year marks the chamber’s sixtieth anniversary in Southern Africa.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
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