Businesses urged to check opportunities in SADC

SOUTH African businesses have been encouraged to eye opportunities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region before planning any expansion into the rest of Africa.

Wesgro, the investment promotion arm of the Western Cape government, yesterday held its fourth summit focusing on business in Africa, coinciding with Africa Day celebrations.

Wesgro chief executive Nils Flaaten told the meeting of business professionals that the SADC region was often overlooked as a destination for expansion by South African companies.

In the medium term, growth in sub-Saharan Africa would flatline, he said, and foreign direct investment had failed to create jobs in many African states.

However over the long term the rest of Africa would show growth, Flaaten said, and present opportunities for South African businesses.

"[Africa's] going to have a billion people in 10 years' time. It's got a growing middle class, and everybody in the world realises that this is the new economic frontier.

"We think there are massive opportunities in agriculture, in infrastructure, in ICT and just the general import-export opportunities you can't get in other markets," he said.

Flaaten also called on the South African government to ease visa requirements for African business people who wanted to do business in this country.

By 2050, PriceWaterhousecoopers Western Cape chief executive Danie Folscher said, half the households in Africa would be middle- class. - Quinton Mtyala