Gauteng Premier David Makhura. File photo: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - With its focus on growing the township businesses, the Gauteng government has invited Italian companies to invest in its cities during a summit in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Premier David Makhura said there was a significant potential to increase trade between Italy, Gauteng and South Africa.

“Our focus is on growing the township economy. Italy has very strong family-owned businesses and we want to learn from them and strengthen enterprises,” Makhura said.

“Gauteng can benefit from the strength of Italy's small and medium-sized firms that drive manufacturing in that country. Italy possesses the know-how, products and personnel that can help strengthen our re-industrialisation initiatives.”

” Business and political leaders in the province and those from Italy's Emalia Rogmana region would later sign investment agreements focusing on economic development and trade, agriculture, sports and cultural exchange, energy, education and early childhood development and manufacturing, among others.

Thirty Italian businesses were at the summit and ready to get down to business, said Emalia Romagna President Stefano Bonaccini.

“We are proud to cement our friendship with Gauteng, which is has three times more population than us and it twice in size compared to Emalia Romagna. We are here to agree and sign cooperative agreements to last the next five years, and I believe it will go beyond five years. This is the beginning of good relations.”

Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina said his metro was looking into cooperation in sport, early childhood development, manufacturing and agriculture.

“We have taken a decision to revitalise our declining manufacturing sector. We call on Italian companies to invest in our city, especially freight and logistics. We are also working very hard to enhance the integration of our transport system.”

Makhura said, between 2006 and 2014, as many as nine foreign direct investment projects came into the province from Italy, creating more than 1 300 jobs. The summit ends on Wednesday.