India-Africa Network to Boost Trade

The India-Africa Business Network, launched at the Gordon Institute of Business in Johannesburg last week, is set to boost trade and open new business and investment channels between India and South Africa.

Speaking at the launch, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said South African trade with fellow members of the BRICS grouping were expanding, while those with the country’s “traditional” trading partners of the West were increasing at a slower rate.

“No longer is the African continent confined to the old powers that we used to know, we now have broader participants.”

South Africa’s trade with India had doubled in the past five years, Davies said, taking total trade between the two countries to R42.9-billion, and making India SA’s 6th largest destination for exports and 9th largest source of imports.

According to reports, the India-Africa Business Network will be run out of the Gordon Institute of Business’ newly formed Centre for Dynamic Markets and will complement existing networks such as the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (Ibsa) and the India and South Africa CEOs forum co-chaired by Indian industrialist Ratan Tata and Patrice Motsepe, executive chairman of Africa Rainbow Minerals.

The network’s founder and director, Abdullah Verachia, said that the network would function as a “knowledge hub for India-Africa commerce”, promoting exchange between business leaders and educational institutions in both countries.

“There are incredible opportunities for South African businesses in India, which has a population in excess of one-billion,” Verachia said. “The two countries are also on the first tier of emerging market economies and both face similar challenges of poverty and inequality.”

India would be spending in the region of US$1.8-trillion on infrastructure over the next 10 years, “a great opportunity” for South African companies, Verachia added.

Davies called on South African and Indian businesses to identify areas of “complementarity” and build on those, rather than focusing on competition.

Also speaking at the launch, FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana said India was “all about entrepreneurs”, and that opportunities in that country cut across a number of sectors, including infrastructure, energy and mining.

India had challenges like any other country, Nxasana said, adding: “If you look at these [challenges] as barriers, then you’ll never do any business in India.”