This year’s South Africa-Italy Summit/Indaba will advance the work of the previous three years’ events in building a community of business and governmental leaders from South Africa and Italy that will seek to reinforce strategic business relationships and actively explore new opportunities for growing their enterprises, countries and continents, says development consultancy Grow to the power of n Consulting COO Nico de Kock.
The event will be hosted by The European House: Ambrosetti, for which Grow to the power of n Consulting is the South Africa representative, from October 24 to 25 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Johannesburg. Speakers, panel members and attendees will include government officials from national and provincial levels, regional and industry associations, CEOs and chairpersons from the private sector.
Key themes under discussion will include the shifting geo-economic situation (globally, in Europe and Africa, and in Italy and South Africa), the promotion of railways and intermodal connectivity, energy investments and infrastructure for a sustainable Africa, the future of healthcare and pharmaceuticals, as well as leadership developments.
The “Made in Italy” meets “Made in Africa” session on the programme will, moreover, provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs from various industries, such as automotive, food processing, furniture and fashion, to share their success stories. A gala dinner and a reception cocktail will also be held at the residence of the Italian Ambassador, in Pretoria, providing further opportunities for interaction.
“What sets this forum apart from others is its unique orientation towards joint investments in sub-Saharan Africa, taking advantage of the synergic cooperation of the complementary competences of Italian and South African companies. The exclusivity of the event, restricted to CEOs and by invitation only, further ensures that the highest levels of decision-makers can air their views honestly and plot their paths forward in a safe environment,” says De Kock.
The format of the indaba is discussion-based and guided by a programme that is predetermined and focused on issues decided by a think-tank and highly competent advisory board, following comprehensive research into the key areas that could benefit South African and Italian companies.
In addition, the indaba has become a pivotal platform for showcasing other initiatives that promote the same vision, including the newly launched Ambrosetti CEO Community – African Chapter, based on the highly successful Ambrosetti Club, in Italy, which aims to facilitate ongoing industry engagement through meetings, roundtable discussions, research and training.
“South Africa has a lot of potential within its own market and, more importantly, in the sub-Saharan African region. “This is why Ambrosetti truly believes that South African companies are the best partner for Italian companies who are pursuing plans to expand into Africa. Through our annual South Africa-Italy Indaba, we hope to promote the concept of sharing knowledge, best practice and technology . . . to build partnerships . . . that benefit Italy and South Africa.”
Driving Mutually Beneficial Development
De Kock notes that South Africa is not yet a top priority in the expansion or investment strategies of companies based in Italy, adding that this is predominantly because they do not know enough about South Africa and what it can offer their businesses.
“Perceptions are changed through practical experience in the region. Once foreign companies visit South Africa and experience the high level of our infrastructure, services and business environment – especially in comparison with other African countries – it becomes clear to them why South Africa would be the best African country for establishing partnerships.”
Such partnerships are, moreover, highly mutually beneficial, with South Africans generally regarding Italian businesses and products as being professional, of high quality and technologically advanced. “This is also why it makes sense to build partnerships between the countries. Although South Africa has a lot to offer Italy and Italian businesses, there are many areas where their strengths would meet the needs of South Africa and the region.”
De Kock notes that leveraging the strengths of Italian companies in key areas, such as agroprocessing, energy, manufacturing and machinery, in particular, would deliver significant benefits in developing South Africa and the sub-Saharan region.
While South Africa faces challenging economic and political dynamics, he further highlights that, for the most part, international investors have adopted a long-term view on South Africa and other sub-Saharan countries, and the opportunities that the region presents.
“Italian businesses can offer expertise, technology and investment to improve efficiencies, grow markets and create new competitive advantages through partnership. It is, thus, crucial that we continue to nurture links between Italy and South Africa as we chart the way forward,” he says.
The European House – Ambrosetti is a leading Italian management consulting firm that was named the number one private think-tank in Italy for the fourth consecutive year this year. The indaba is inspired by the memorandum of understanding that was signed by the governments of South Africa and Italy at the “Regions of Africa Europe Forum” in Taormina, in Italy, in 2012, where the two governments committed to promoting bi-lateral trade and investment between their countries.