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Halaal-inspired KZN trade and investment indaba key to transformation

KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay during a press conference about halaal investments at the Kingsmead Business Park in Durban. Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)

KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay during a press conference about halaal investments at the Kingsmead Business Park in Durban. Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 21, 2022

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DURBAN - The halaal-inspired KwaZulu-Natal trade and investment indaba will be key to the realisation of an inclusive and transformed economic participation.

It was a view shared among business leaders attending the launch of the KwaZulu-Natal Trade and Investment Indaba and World Halal Day recently. The three-day trade conference will see delegates discussing the potential of partnering local entrepreneurs with their Muslim compatriots as well as investors in the overseas halaal industry.

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KZN Trade and Investment CEO Neville Matjie said the conference will be a launch pad for the province’s exploration of the otherwise unfamiliar Asian market.

“Magellan Management approached the KZN government and our office around 2014 to discuss the potential and existence of the halaal sector, not only in the province but also in the country, which could benefit all parties involved. There had to be feasibility studies before we could commit to a conference of this magnitude.

“As time went on, and the studies were succeeding, it was clear the market did exist and that it was expected to grow in trillions of dollars. This launch is a culmination of constant engagement with business leaders and will be a gateway to the Asian market for KwaZulu-Natal,” said Matjie.

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MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KZN Ravi Pillay said that while the province was still reaping the fruits of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF), which was held late last year, it was important for the province to continue on this trajectory so as to achieve an inclusive and transformed economy.

“The province is in an exemplary position in terms of recovering the economy in the wake of the pandemic. Our province is still benefiting from the gains of the IATF, where countries invested directly in this province, and this conference will ensure we continue in that direction, which will propel us towards economic growth, job creation and transformation towards an inclusive economy. We are, however, not naive to say the impact of the conference will be immediately felt, but it will require a deliberate effort to reach that stage.

“Removing the idea of halaal as a Muslim thing will be equally important as most people think it is mainly for people of a certain race or religion. Part of the initiative is to encompass everyone, and make them understand that halaal speaks to business practices, ethics and values more than it is about religious beliefs and racial groupings,” said Pillay.

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He added: “Whenever we meet with investors, we explain as to what steps we have taken to make sure that something similar to the July unrest does not happen again. And that has aided our efforts to draw investors back to the province.”

Pillay said the conference comes at the most appropriate time, leading to the national investment summit.

Chairperson of the United World Halal Development, Mohamed Jinna, delivered a message of support and congratulated the provincial government for reaching the stage of commencing the trade partnership.

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“Evident to the seriousness the KZN government took the initiative, it was a deliberated decision. We support the government of this province and wish to convey a message of support,” said Jinna.

The trade and investment conference takes place from March 22 to 24 at the Durban International Convention Centre, with 35 countries participating.

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