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S Africa keen to engage with India Business Forum to extend bilateral cooperation: Minister

S Africa keen to engage with India Business Forum to extend bilateral cooperation: Minister


S Africa keen to engage with India Business Forum to extend bilateral cooperation: Minister

South Africa is more than ready to engage with the CII India Business Forum (IBF) and relevant local ministries to further extend the bilateral cooperation, a senior minister said on Sunday, lauding Indian companies for supporting the country’s growth trajectory.

South Africa has proposed a joint task team between the IBF and relevant local ministries to further extend the cooperation that already exists between the two countries. Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, made the call in his address at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the IBF, an association of over 100 Indian companies operating in South Africa.

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I must upfront indicate that as a Minister and both my departments, we are more than ready to engage with this forum further for mutual benefit, Nzimande said. We propose the establishment of a Joint Task Team to work on the details of our future partnership, he added. The minister said the IBF meeting was taking place at the time when the South African government and businesses needed to foster strong partnerships in order to grow the economy and create jobs.

Allow me to take this opportunity to thank the forum and Indian companies who since 1996 have invested more than 100 billion into the South African economy across the pharmaceutical, information technology and automotive industries, he said. As the South African government, we are gratified by your commitment to support our country in its development trajectory and we are looking forward to more partnerships with you going forward, he said.

I wish to salute the seminal role played by India in opposition to, and isolation of, the apartheid state since as far back as the 1960s. The distinguished role of India in this regard was recognised by former State President Nelson Mandela, Nzimande said The minister asked the Indian companies to consider placing some of the thousands of young people who have graduated from colleges in learnership positions.

Nzimande highlighted a wide range of opportunities for the IBF to share some of the skills and capabilities, particularly in ICT and other smart manufacturing technologies to support the digital transformation of the manufacturing sector in the country’s re-industrialisation efforts Indian businesses could enter into a co-funding of these programmes in order to ensure massive uptake of South African youth. Opportunities also exist to invest in South Africa’s reindustrialisation efforts by helping in building South Africa’s local manufacturing capabilities, he said.

Nzimande also listed a wide range of areas in which India and South Africa were already achieving joint success, including a strategic partnership for the success of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project, hosted in South Africa Indian scientists, notably from the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, are making crucial contributions to software development systems supporting the SKA. This includes close cooperation with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, he said.

The SKA project is a driver for accelerated technology development in domains such as supercomputing and big data, and this offers exciting opportunities for the South African and Indian enterprises to cooperate on the most promising technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he said In his closing address, IBF President Praveer Tripathi said that after doubling its membership in Johannesburg, there were plans now to take the organsiation to the other provinces of South Africa as well and after that to other countries in the Southern African Development Community countries.

Tripathi made a plea to the Indian companies in South Africa to share their success stories via the IBF website, which is in the process of being revamped Earlier, Tripathi said that since its formation in 2018, the organisation had ably demonstrated the resilience of the Indian companies in South Africa in dealing with the social and economic inequities, unemployment, the Covid 19 pandemic and various other challenges.

The IBF has been tirelessly and enthusiastically doing its part in building Brand India and Brand South Africa in promoting and uniting the business investments between both the countries, he said Going forward, we look forward to vibrant economic cooperation between India and South Africa by making the Forum an essential first-stop shop for Indian businesses looking to invest in South Africa as well as South African businesses looking to invest in India, Tripathi said.

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