South African government officials and business representatives held wide-ranging talks with their BRICS counterparts during the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is an annual Russian business event that brings together BRICS governments (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the business community.
Discussions cover issues facing BRICS economies, including investment opportunities.
Bulelani Magwanishe, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, represented South Africa at the forum that began on 1 June.
The deputy minister said the discussions and networking that took place represented a great marketing tool for South Africa and African development.
“Certain countries still do not know much about Africa’s economic activities and projects.
“The continent needs to do a lot of marketing to show its potential and focus on helping the facets of our economic activities, like Russia and China do,” he said.
South Africa sees SPIEF as an opportunity to educate potential investors about the opportunities across the continent.
During the BRICS Business Forum and Russia-Africa Round Table, South Africa pushed for more investment in industrial projects to drive the African Union development agenda.
The $35-billion worth of new contracts signed during the forum was evidence of its importance, the Deputy Minister explained.
“Inroads were also made in creating new markets for agro-processing and mining sectors, especially for emerging exporters and entrepreneurs for the East Asian markets,” said Deputy Minister Magwanishe.
Creating new platforms
An important lesson taken away from the forum by the South Africa delegation was the need for African governments to create a similar event for the continent.
Among the 5 000 delegates in attendance were 39 ministers from 26 countries, all of whom were looking to showcase or find investment opportunities.
The Deputy Minister explained: “Africa should also move in the direction of creating platforms such as SPIEF in order to capitalise on some of the largest untapped reserves of minerals, oil and gas.”