The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said the council meeting offered vast opportunities for local businesses to interact with BRICS business council members through various platforms created by the provincial government.
“We have created platforms for our local businesses to interact with business council members. The networking gala dinner to be co-hosted by the premier is one such platform. Also, we encourage our businesses to engage in one-on-one meetings with relevant BRICS companies during their stay in Durban,” said Zikalala.
The 25-member BRICS Business Council, chaired by Sekunjalo chairman Dr Iqbal Survé, meets in Durban ahead of the BRICS Summit to be held in Johannesburg later this month.
Zikalala said the country’s participation in BRICS had increased its profile globally, and has also boosted the tourism sector, with more visitors from BRICS countries visiting our shores.
“The country’s trade with BRICS countries has increased and the positive thing is that our products are more and more finding markets in these nations,” he said.
Statistics provided by the KZN Department of Economic Development show that between 2008 and 2017 all BRICS countries experienced increased exports from KZN, “with significant growth and upward trends in exports to China and later, from 2015 onwards, by India with the province. Trade with Russia and Brazil remains relatively consistent, although exports have increased.”
In its bid to attract investments, the government has identified key strategic areas, which include infrastructure development, skills development, value addition and beneficiation, special economic zones, industrialisation, maritime economy, agriculture/agroprocessing and tourism.
Zikalala said KZN’s main selling points as an investment destination included having two ports, Durban and Richards Bay. Durban is the largest port in Africa, while Richards Bay was the second largest in the country. This enhances the province’s status as the gateway to Africa.
Zikalala said the province, as an investment destination, also boasted numerous raw materials, a good climate, internationally recognised tertiary institutions, world-class infrastructure and a strong banking and financial system.
“We’ve established a One Stop Shop investment centre to ensure investors receive seamless, efficient service when they invest in KZN. We also have world-class health, social and educational facilities.”
Asked about the benefits of KZN hosting the BRICS Business Council, Zikalala said: “South Africa is a unitary state; any benefits for the country also mean benefits for the province. KZN is the second largest economy - with two key ports that facilitate trade for the country. Increased trade for SA is a plus for KZN. We host two special economic zones geared to assist us increase our manufacturing capabilities, and we have infrastructure that makes us an investment destination of choice.”