By Neville Matjtie
The beauty about living in a diverse country as rich as South Africa is that once in a while, if you are truly interested in learning about other cultures, you can make the time to understand a world outside your own.
There are occasions marked in our country’s calendar that present the perfect opportunity to learn and share about a culture or religion and we come out even wiser.
Every year, as we wish our Islam community “Happy Ramadaan” and as we offer halaal as a dietary option, at corporate occasions we must sometimes ask ourselves if we truly know the meaning behind these practices.
World Halal Day is the perfect occasion to go on a fact-finding mission. Potential alliances or trade partners also need a deeper understanding of one another for the partnership to be sustained. It is to this end that Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) together with United World Halal Development will host World Halal Day in Durban from March 22-24.
The global event, which will be attended by investors, delegates and exhibitors, will share knowledge, explore trade opportunities, and present a co-ordinated platform for innovators, investors and buyers of halaal products. This event forms part of the provincial government’s efforts to rebuild a resilient and sustainable economy, especially after the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
One may be curious about to the link between World Halal Day and TIKZN. The halaal economy is a multitrillion-dollar opportunity that captures the core of faith-based Muslim spend, as well as the value chain that includes all Halal-Certified non-Islamic contributors.
There has been a global paradigm shift from a halaal niche strategy to mass marketing of halaal products and services, leveraging on the internet and borderless e-commerce platforms. Halaal is also recognised as a benchmark for quality, health, hygiene and safety, thus a favourable consideration in global sourcing.
KZN has the potential to lead government-to-government engagement in this sector. This has been proven in countries such as Singapore, India, Croatia, the UK, South Korea and Russia where United World Development has hosted World Halal Day in the past. The onus is therefore on institutions such as TIKZN to educate entrepreneurs on opportunities in this sector.
KZN Trade and Investment Indaba will therefore provide a lever to draw potential investors to the province physical and virtually, as well as provide an opportunity to leverage the burgeoning global halaal economy to increase inter-African trade.
Considering that the African continent is home to about 500 million Muslims and Asia has about 1.2 billion Muslims, and the halaal economy is predicted to grow at rate of 5-6% a year till 2030, there is no greater time than now to explore the possibilities of KZN leveraging these growing numbers, especially with the knowledge that the average disposable income is greater in the Muslim population between the ages of 19 and 45, making it larger than in any other population group.
The objectives of this conference are to:
. Educate business and investors on the opportunities posed by the halaal economy and how they are able to tap into this market.
. Continue positioning KZN as a global investment destination of choice.
. Amplify the “Business Continuity and recovery” message for KZN and the halaal sector post-Covid-19.
. Highlight the investment opportunities within the halaal sector and other key economic sectors for KZN.
. Boost domestic and foreign direct Investment into KZN, especially from a private sector investor perspective.
. And create a Business 2 Business engagement platform for strategic collaborations and partnerships.
The event being hosted in the sunny Durban, it is also our hope that delegates and exhibitors who participate in the talks and activities during this conference will also take some time for sightseeing, visiting some of the breath-taking historic and other sites of our province.
No doubt the ground is fertile for constructive and mutually beneficial dialogues that can create continued trade links between South Africa, SADC and Asia.
* Neville Matjtie is the CEO of Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal
** The views expressed here may not necessarily be that of IOL.