06/05/2010 Sandile Zungu black empowerment businessman during an interview at JHB. (522) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Business heavyweight Sandile Zungu has punted Durban as the possible headquarters for the much vaunted development bank of the emerging market economies bloc of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Zungu, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal and serves as one of the representatives on the Brics Business Council, said South Africa stood as good a chance as any of the Brics nations to be home to the bank.

Speaking at a business breakfast hosted by law firm Norton Rose in La Lucia last week, he said that basing the bank in Durban would attract major business development into the country’s main port city.

Zungu, who is also the general secretary of the Black Business Council, was speaking on the benefits of Brics and opportunities for KZN and South Africa.

“There would be institutions which would be interested in locating themselves around the bank to develop their business relations with international markets, as the bank will have lots of international projects,” said Zungu.

“The KZN government has demonstrated a level of proactivity and positive aggression that says they really want this to be in KZN,” he added.

If the bank was to be based in Durban, which hosted the Brics Summit in March, the province needed to use the opportunity not just for itself, but also the development of Africa.

Zungu said that it would mean the province would need to enhance its tourism sector and have more direct international flights into King Shaka International Airport.

“Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal has to grow to its full potential to attract both more tourists and business people… Having more international flights is one of the elements which would attract more people to come into the city, as this would mean flexible travelling for them,” he said.

Joburg and Cape Town remained cities which had more business travellers than Durban because international business travellers could fly directly to these destinations without taking connecting flights.

Zungu said the decision as to where the headquarters of the bank would be was an important one which needed evaluations before being finalised.

He was not sure when this would happen, but hoped it would be finalised “within the shortest time”.

The decision to set up a new development bank was made by Brics leaders at the Durban summit.

They said it was aimed at “mobilising resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in Brics and other emerging economies”.

While more details of the bank were expected at the next summit in Brazil next year, Brics members said on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia in September that it was targeting a reserve pool of $100 billion (R1 trillion).

Russia, Brazil and India would contribute $18bn collectively in initial funding, while China would put in $41bn and South Africa $5bn.

Zungu said once the bank was established, it was expected to prioritise infrastructure, education and human settlement.

“Infrastructure development is imperative, as the Brics countries need to increase business relations… We need to build railways across Africa to ensure that companies who want to transport something from African countries can do that,” he said.

President Jacob Zuma and Standard Bank boss Sim Tshabalala are among other leaders that have said the bank should be based in South Africa. - The Mercury