The Africa–Scotland Business Network (ASBN) has, since its launch in November, achieved great success in bringing trade opportunities to South Africa.
Since the network’s launch in Cape Town during the Africa Oil and Gas Week, it has grown organically to a membership of 86 and counting.
In collaboration with the Scottish government, ASBN is currently assisting a Scottish-owned training business to expand its operations in Cape Town, to train and upskill a local labour force for the oil and gas industry.
Currently, Africa is spending huge amounts on foreign expertise to service such industries.
Through direct engagement, ASBN is also facilitating a possible deal for a start-up food tech company; a Johannesburg-based virtual environment integration agent; and the Pineapple Growers Association to export fruit to Scotland.
In addition to business ventures, ASBN is liaising with a global Scottish charity, that is considering expanding its footprint in South Africa.
“This was all within two weeks of launching, which is extremely exciting and promising. Our aim is to have 200 businesses on board in our marketplace by the end of 2020,” says ASBN business partner and Scottish entrepreneur Claire Alexander, who helped co-found the network with Nicola Probyn.
As Scotland is a global leader in renewable energy, with targets to be carbon neutral by 2050, and already a net producer of clean energy, many nations are turning to Scotland for its expertise in this sector.
This is one of the industries that Alexander believes is ripe for collaboration.
“The network also has a mission to ensure skills transfer and is investigating opportunities for Scottish universities to provide bursaries for disadvantaged students from South Africa.
“At the same time, it is collaborating with the Scotland Africa Business Association, in Edinburgh, to help us match African businesses to commercial opportunities in Scotland,” she explains.
The union of Scotland and South Africa appears to have great potential, as early interest and deals are already indicating. It is likely that the organisation will go from strength to strength, creating international trade, as well as knowledge and skills sharing opportunities for both nations.
ASBN in a release on Wednesday quoted data by Wesgro – the tourism and trade promotion agency of the Western Cape – which found that South Africa’s exports to Scotland increased by an average yearly rate of 49% between 2007 and 2016, while imports increased by a yearly rate of 1.9%.
Wesgro had previously sought to bed down positive trade relations with Scotland, with a 2017 visit to Edinburgh to discuss ongoing collaboration and opportunities between the two nations.
“There is a great deal of synergy between the economies of Scotland and Africa, They are both strong in technology, renewable energy, agriculture and agri-tech, food and beverages, manufacturing and education,” Alexander highlights.