JOHANNESBURG – South Africa offers an array of opportunities for Scottish businesses, with the renewable energy sector for example being ripe for collaboration, the conveners of a network established in 2019 have said.

South Africa-based Scottish entrepreneur Claire Alexander and local resident Nicola Probyn worked with the Scottish government to launch the Africa Scottish Business Network (ASBN) last November which aims to support, educate and provide opportunities for businesses from both nations.

The network has grown to a membership of 86 and is, in collaboration with the government of Scotland, helping a Scottish-owned training business expand its operations in Cape Town, upskilling the local labour force for the oil and gas industry.

The official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, Wesgro, says South Africa’s exports to Scotland increased by an average annual rate of 49 percent in the period 2007 to 2016 , while imports rose by 1.9 percent per year.

Between 2003 and 2016, 11 foreign direct investment projects with a capital investment of £24.37 million were recorded between Scotland and South Africa, creating 497 jobs.

ASBN is already facilitating a possible deal for a start-up food tech company; a Johannesburg based VEagent and the Pineapple Growers Association to export fruit to Scotland, while also liaising with a global Scottish charity looking to increase 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,” Alexander said.

She said many countries were turning for expertise to Scotland, a global leader in renewable energy with targets to be carbon neutral by 2050.

"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," said Alexander, adding it was also collaborating with the Scotland Africa Business Association to match African businesses to commercial opportunities in Scotland.

Steven Craig, a director at Scottish oil and gas service Craig International which recently set up its Africa head office in Cape Town and has provided sponsorship to the ASBN, said he hoped to support Scottish companies looking to do more business in Africa, as well as South African companies wanting to invest in Scotland. 

“We’ve got expertise in a lot of different industries, so we’re confident that we can hopefully increase trade and employment," Craig said.

African News Agency (ANA)