The adage “though the mills of God grinds slowly, they grind exceeding small” rings true for the Brandhill Africa’s effort in deepening intra-African engagement between the CEOs of the investment promotion agencies (IPA) in particular, and the economic development agencies in general. The progress made this far clearly proves that our effort is unstoppable. The support from our anchor partner, the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) has been more than humbling, and to say we’re grateful will be a gross understatement of the truth.

As they say a journey of a million miles starts with the first – or an elephant is eaten piece by piece – we have launched our initiative with the thirteen biggest trading partners of the Gauteng City Region. These were as follows:

  • Biggest import sources for the GCR: Lesotho, Eswatini,  Namibia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo,  Zimbabwe,  Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Nigeria and Ghana.
  • Biggest export destinations for the GCR: Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia,  Botswana,  Zimbabwe, Mozambique,  Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Kenya.

The GCR is an economic powerhouse on the continent. It contributes 35% to South Africa’s GDP – five percent more than the combined GDP of the second and third biggest contributors, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal respectively.

Although the forum was conceived to only cover 13 biggest trading partners of GCR  during its first phase of inception, we have since decided that in line with the recommendation from my recent meeting with the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, H.E. Mr Wamkele Mene, that every pan African initiative should endeavour to spread its reach across all regional economic blocs; and also have at least one country from Anglophone, Lusophone, Francophone and Arabic African states (Egypt and Maghreb). 

Looking at the original thirteen countries, one may realise they represent member states from ECOWAS (Nigeria and Ghana), EAC (Kenya and most recently, DRC) and SADC; two Lusophone countries (Mozambique and Angola); one Francophone country (DRC); and Anglophone countries. This is our attempt to avoid “othering” the other countries or regions. This is in recognition of the oneness of the continent. According to Jean- François Staszsk, othering could be defined as “the result of discursive process by which the dominant group (‘us’, the self) constructs one or the many dominated out-groups (‘them’, other) by stigmatising a difference – real or imagined – presented as a negation of identity and thus a motive of potential discrimination. To state naively, difference belongs to the realm of fact and otherness belongs to the realm of discourse. Thus, biological sex is difference, whereas gender is otherness.”

So we then decided to include Egypt in the current phase. By the way, this phase is envisaged to take six months, so we have to run against time. Egypt, representing northern region of the continent, is the second biggest economy in Africa, the biggest beneficiary of FDI in Africa last year, and that the Africa Export-Import Bank is headquartered in Cairo. Egypt’s GDP of $363 billion makes it the second biggest economy in Africa after Nigeria, it has overtaken South Africa (whose GDP is $329.53 billion). So we have already reached out to Counselor Mohamed Abdel Wahab, the CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones in Egypt, and we hope to formally bring them onboard.

By the way, recently we have strengthened our relationship with Sibangani Mngomezulu, CEO: eSwatini Investment and Promotion Authority (SIPA) – do refer to our special country focus on Eswatini which we published two weeks ago in which we showcased trade and investment opportunities in that country and also profiled the agency’s two executives. Things are progressing very well with Gil Bires, the Director-General of the Agency for Private Investment and Promotion of Exports (AIPEX) of Mozambique. We have also reached out to Mrs Duduzile ShinyaActing CEO of the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Authority (ZIDA). All in all, we’re confident we have fourteen countries engaging actively with the GCR.

Here at home, we have also reached out to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) as in terms of our public service architecture, it is the anchor of South Africa’s foreign policy practice. 

Brandhill Africa has forged collaborative engagements with Dr Amany Asfour, the President of the African Business Council (AfBC). We’re reaching out to Kebour Ghenna, the Executive Director of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI). On the regional front, we’ve been working very closely with the COMESA Business Council.

This train is moving. Take a ride now to avoid the risks identified with staffriding.

Before signing out, let me thank Thobela FM for interviewing me today on Friday to unpack the Russia-Ukraine crisis snd how it will impact on Africa.

Enjoy your weekend.

Saul Molobi

Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Brandhill Africa (Pty) Ltd
Tel: +27 11 759 4297
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