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SA companies spot business opportunities in East Africa

International relations / Africa news

A recent Department of Trade and Industry mission to East Africa has helped put South African exporters in contact with exciting new markets.

Representatives from 27 South African businesses accompanied the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) on its Outward Selling Mission to East Africa at the end of June.

The mission visited Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The delegation held meetings with local business owners and government officials. Tanzanian companies were interested in starting dialogues with companies involved in Operation Phakisa.

After the visit, the dti’s chief director of export promotion and marketing, Zanele Sanni, said: “The marine economy-focused Operation Phakisa is going to unlock opportunities in the shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, oil and gas, bio-technology and tourism sectors and the Tanzanian private sector is enthusiastic about these opportunities.”

Build on opportunities

Sanni said the connections made on the mission were just the beginning. “We hope that in six months we will be able to report on tangible transactions as a result of the mission.”

Gertrude Makamure, MD of Tarch Chemicals, believes her talks with Kenyan companies will lead to new business for her Gauteng company. “I have noticed that a lot of material can be supplied by South African companies here, particularly chemicals and related ingredients, at a much cheaper rate than is being currently supplied.”

Beyond finding opportunities, the dti missions give South African businesses insight into the markets they are trying to crack. Afro Botanics manufactures hair and body treatments using essential oils and natural ingredients, and has tried unsuccessfully to gain a foothold in Kenya.

CEO Ntombenhle Khathwana says Kenya’s fast-growing natural hair movement, where women are choosing to stop chemically straightening their hair, is an untapped market for her products.  “I came to Kenya to understand the Kenyan market better, from a regulatory business perspective as well as from a consumer perspective.”

She believes Kenya will soon become her sixth African market.

Beyond the private sector

The dti is also eager for African countries to look at South Africa as a destination for investment. The Tanzanian interest in Operation Phakisa presents an opportunity for them to partner with South African state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

As the dti’s Sanni pointed out, “SOEs are keen to partner and work with other African economies with a view to prioritise investment in marine manufacturing, boat building as well as oil rig maintenance and repair.”