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Ripe with opportunities

From booming industries to investment potential - under new leadership, South Africa's future bears promise for growth.

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South Africa's High Commissioner to Singapore, Modise Casalis Mokitlane: "South Africa and Singapore have warm, deep and extensive relations. Many of the global policies of both our countries are similar, especially with regards to international law and multilateral processes, peace, security and development."

AS South Africa celebrates its national day tomorrow and 25 years of democracy, the country is on the road to success. And South Africa's High Commissioner to Singapore, Modise Casalis Mokitlane, is motivated and enthusiastic that he can contribute to the country's progress during his tenure in Singapore.

"South Africa and Singapore have warm, deep and extensive relations. Many of the global policies of both our countries are similar, especially with regards to international law and multilateral processes, peace, security and development," he says.

Diplomatic relations between both countries were established in 1992 when embassies were opened in Pretoria and Singapore, and Mr Mokitlane, who began his role as High Commissioner to Singapore in 2017, has grand plans to strengthen this relationship even further by growing trade and investment.

There is much to be done but his work has been made smoother following the election of new president Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa by the South African parliament last year whose one of many immediate tasks is to revive the country's economy. "President Ramaphosa has directed the Government Ministries as well as our Provincial Governments to develop investment profiles and bankable projects, and we will be promoting these specific projects during the course of the year," says the High Commissioner.

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The promotion of investment into the South African economy is one of Mr Mokitlane's immediate focuses.

Last year's South Africa Investment Conference, organised by President Ramaphosa, pledged to raise at least ZAR 1.5 trillion (S$0.14 trillion) in new investment over five years. There is already more than ZAR 690 billion of new investment expected and the High Commissioner is confident that this year's conference will reach the goal set by the president.

He highlights the Johannesburg Stock Exchange as a good avenue for investment as it is one of the world's leading stock exchanges with high returns. He also notes "world-class potentials" in South Africa's relatively unexplored oceans economy, new energy discoveries, as well as greenfield and brownfield opportunities throughout the country.

"The potential for our future relations is almost unlimited, and is constantly growing beyond Government-to-Government relations," says Mr Mokitlane.

Avenues for growth

There are also opportunities in South Africa's energy sector, particularly for traditional and renewable energy companies, while in the water sector, South Africa is looking at desalination, reclamation and recycling of water, through improved sanitation and other processes. "We will be expanding our involvement with companies based in Singapore to assess how their investment in these sectors could grow our trade and economy," says the High Commissioner.

On the trading front, Mr Mokitlane is working with the Singapore Food Agency to export South African meat products to Singapore.

South Africa's main exports to Singapore currently include vegetables and fruit, in addition to non-food products such as organic and inorganic chemicals, petroleum, metal manufactures, metallic ores and scrap and paper products, while its imports from Singapore include telecommunications apparatus, electrical machinery, office and data machines, general industrial machinery, plastics, crude rubber, textile manufactures and coffee and spices.

He adds that South Africa is also a "global fintech leader" and "leading medical technology producer", citing opportunities for collaboration in these fields.

Additionally, Cape Town and Singapore are conducive cities for startups and there are possibilities for collaboration between the infocomm technology hub of Silicon Cape and Singapore startups too.

Tourism is also another industry that Mr Mokitlane is working on promoting. He plans to host tourism seminars for agencies to attract tourists to under-visited parts of South Africa.

"My responsibility is to implement the developmental priorities of our people. I hope that my legacy will be a record of investment and growing trade but balanced with a deeper and broader knowledge of South Africa and Africa within Singapore," says Mr Mokitlane.

Gaining entry

A positive development for South African businesses will be the launch of the South African Chamber of Commerce (Singapore) or SACham next month.

"The launch of SACham is an indication that the number of South African companies and South Africans in business in Singapore has reached a sizeable mass. The Chamber will be able to promote these products and services, but will also assist new market entrants with information. This will help South African companies entering Singapore, as well as Singaporean and Asian companies entering the South African market," says Mr Mokitlane.

At present, there are more than 50 South African companies in Singapore in various industries such as agriculture and agro-industry, mining, investment, infocomm technology, import and export, maritime, fintech, marketing, food and beverage, tourism and engineering services.