As we end the second year of the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), there are many INTERcontinental opportunities presented to Africa, but these cannot be compared to the INTRAcontinental competitive advantage the continent derived from the AfCFTA. This was the crux of the speeches and discussions at the 3rd annual Biashara Services and Products Africa (BiSPA) Conference and Exhibition. The hybrid conference – with the physical event hosted at the premises of Empire Partner Foundation while the virtual was beamed through social media platforms – was aptly themed: “Two Years of the Operationalisation of the AfCFTA: Celebrating Achievements; Mitigating Risks; and Entrenching a Shared Continental Vision”. Our standard overarching themes were feed Africapower Africa; industrialise Africa; and, integrate Africa.

The word “Biashara” is a kiSwahili word that means “the activity of providing goods and services involving financial and commercial transactions.”

Brandhill Africa is a global pan African competitive identity and public diplomacy agency which specialises in brand management, economic diplomacy, cultural industries development and corporate social investment (CSI).

We’re proud to say the African Business Council (AfBC), the African Tourism Board (ATB) and the Empire Partner Foundation (EPF) became Brandhill Africa™‘s strategic partners in 2022. As such, Dr Amany Asfour, President of the AfBC, who’s based in Egypt, and Cuthbert Ncube, the Executive Chairman of the ATB, were keynote speakers at the annual event on 14 December 2022. The AfBC is the apex body on the promotion and lobbying of the Pan-African business interests. It serves as a key pillar within the architecture of the AfCFTA by ensuring there is organized interaction between the Pan-African Private Sector and African Policymakers. The ATB’s brand positioning vision is “where Africa becomes ONE tourism destination in the WORLD”. EPF’s Manager, Mikhial Mariemuthu, welcomed us as the host at their prestigious venue. 

Most humbling for us was when Dr Asfour had to deliver her keynote address from Washington, US, at 9h30 (CAT) where she was attending the US-Africa Leaders Summit whichh was convened by President Joe Biden – this means she had to wake up to ready herself at 01h30 for our event as Washington is seven hours behind Johannesburg time. Though it was during the wee hours of the morning and after having spent the whole day in the summit with Heads of State and Government, she gave a sterling inspirational performance to our audiences.

*** Dr Amany Asfour, President: African Business Council (AfBC) ***

Our annual conference – which is interspersed with quarterly webinars – is a sister project to this news portal, Jambo Africa Online – which is part of our elaborate market disrupting publishing list – and the Africa IPA CEO Forum we’ve established as a structured mechanism for engagements between the CEOs of investment promotion agencies (IPA) in a number of targeted African countries. This initiative was sponsored by the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) for six months in 2022. All our three platforms have emerged as the premier pan-African multichannel tools aimed at those committed to making valuable contributions to the growth, renewal and transformation of our continent’s economic landscape and for deriving maximum value out of the implementation of the AfCFTA. 

This annual conference was inaugurated on 9 December 2020. Its objectives for this third instalment were:

  • To share updates, milestones and their implications in the operationalisation of the AfCFTA since 1 January 2021
  • To support efforts in mainstreaming issues affecting the AfCFTA particularly among economic development agencies,  organised business, organised labour and civil society institutions
  • To help promote opportunities accruing from the AfCFTA among the MSMEs, youth and women enterprises
  • Share best experiences from other countries and the economic sectoral approaches on the operationalisation of the AfCFTA
  • To promote institutions boosting intra-African trade; positioning Africa as a viable destination for tourism and investment; and advocating for continental integration. 

This is how we have been characterising our conference and differentiating it from the run of the mill:

  • An annual review of progress on the operationalisation of the AfCFTA
  • Continental participation buttressed by those interested globally
  • Support from BRICS, ASEAN, Latin America, the Caribbean and the EU 
  • All African RECs to be covered and involved
  • We will address and prepare inputs on outstanding AfCFTA items of the items to be tackled in the current and next phases of negotiations – and these are,  Investment, e-Commerce, Intellectual Property and Competition
  • Participation by CEOs of economic development agencies of major African countries 
  • Participation of diverse business formations – SMME’s, cooperatives and SOEs
  • Focus on transformational and developmental topics 
  • Focus on sponsor-driven streams or sessions in carefully identified areas
  • Sector or subject-focused inputs compared to topic-focused inputs
  • Highly participative and intensively interactive.

Looking at the calibre of speakers we have alwayss attracted over the years; the excellent quality of their presentations; the breadth and depth of the themes covered; and the broad spectrum of virtual audiences from across Africa and other continents such as the Americas, Europe and Asia, we’re indeed exceeding our expectations. 

*** Cuthbert Ncube, Executive Chairman: African Tourism Board ***

We have indeed outdone ourselves this year. The speakers included Sisa Njikelana, our event co-convenor and Managing Director: Sinakoyoli Consulting; Ben Leyka, CEO of the African Agri Council who is also the CEO of DRC Invest; Alan Mukoki, CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI); Dr Dustin Ramahanedza, Global CEO, Farmers Connect Africa; Pamela Salela, UK Country Manager: Brand SA; Ipeleng Kwadi, Managing Director: Motshotelo Farming Enterprise;  Lerato Maku, Administrative Executive of Future Africa International (a pan African youth business federation with branches across the continent); Sonwabile Ndamase, creator of the Madiba shirt and Managing Director: Vukani Fashions; Masingita Masunga, brand ambassador: abBOVEnormal; oand Amb Mouhamed Faouzou DEME (a Senior Expert in Tourism and Hospitality; former Technical Advisor to several government Ministries in Senegal; Ambassador of the African Tourism Board (ATB) and has been appointed a World Tourism Hero by the World Tourism Network).

The speaker demographic profiles cut across several demographics (all the five regions of the continent); linguistic (Anglo, Luso, Arab and Franco Africa); gender; race and age. So this time we even hosted a French speaking speaker with English interpretations – this is one of our objectives to finally deliver our platforms in multiple languages granted official status by the African Union (AU). Our audiences were senior public officials, policy makers, business chambers, individual entrepreneurs and potential investors located across the continent and abroad. We also spotted dignitaries such as Amb Nomvuyo Nokwe, former South Africa’s High Commissioner: Mauritius who also served as the Executive Secretary of the Indian Ocean Rim Association – an association of 22 countries sharing the Indian Ocean.

*** Saul Molobi and Sonwabile Ndamase, Managing Director: Vukani Fashions ***

The seminar celebrated such milestones in these two years as the launch of the Pan African Payment System and Settlement (PAPSS); Africa Trade Observatory; the AfCFTA Online Mechanism for Reporting, Monitoring and Elimination of ATBs; Guided Trade Iniative and the Tariff Book. The Africa Industrilisation Index has also indicate many African countries are investing resources into industrialisation.

*** Ben Leyka, CEO: DRC Invest and CEO: African Agri Council ***

It has been an empowering  journey from 2020

Earlier this year in our Africa Month celebration on 8 May 2022, we were privileged to host as a keynote speaker H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General (SG) of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The respondents to the SG’s speech were H.E. Youssef AMRANI, Ambassador of Morocco to South Africa (Morocco); Ben Leyka, CEO: DRC Invest (Democratic Republic of the Congo); José Miranda, Grow Africa Director: Zutari (Angola); and John Karegwa, CEO: Invest in Africa Conference (Kenya/Netherlands). Zutari generously sponsored the event.

And this august event was preceded by our first quarter three-day workshop on climate-smart agriculture which we hosted on behalf of the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) whichh benefited emerging farmers from South Afriva and beyond. The workshop was arranged for the benefit of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. Although our targets for participation were emerging South African farmers, we ended up attracting delegates from other African countries. The marketing of the event, undertaken by Brandhill Africa™, was highly successful.   

*** Media partners to the African Agri Indaba ***

These two quarterly jamborees of this year were succeeded by Brandhill Africa™ becoming a media partner to the African Agri Council (AAC) on their Agri Investment Indaba which was held in Cape Town.

Previously participating companies included Proudly South African (its CEO, Eustace Mashimbye gave the opening address); CSIR (represented by Ruan Fourie, its Energy Economist plus Secretary: South African Association for Energy Economists); Walvis Bay Corridor Group (its CEO gave a speech); Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (Leslie Mpofu, Executive Director spoke); the Dubai-headquartered World Free Zones Organisation (represented by Dr Mohan Guruswamy, its Chief Knowledge Officer, who gave the keynote speech); my speech was titled “De/constructing the African Renaissance: NEPAD, Agenda 2063 and AfCFTA”); Growth Diagnostics (Francois Fouche, Director of this collaboration with the University of the North West Business School, Francois Fouche spoke on “Africa’s Readiness: Towards the operationalisation of the AfCFTA”); Ipeleng Kwadi, MD: Motshotelo Farming Enterprises (“Women in agriculture: A historical perspective”); and many other distinguished speakers.

Inspired by our conference success in 2020 as it attracted delegates from all over the world with interest in Africa, we then made a commitment to host quarterly virtual seminars as build up to the annual December jamboree. We couldn’t allow it to be a once off event as many conferences are. We had to keep the momentum going in-between the annual events. So we made a commitment to host quarterly webinars as build up to the annual jamboree. By the way, this was what the delegates also demanded from us. It was even more humbling when they requested that we set up a WhatsApp group so that the conversations could continue in-between the quarterly webinars. This has resulted into the establishment of three groups with active members who daily share valuable information on business opportunities in Africa. 

We held our first quarterly virtual seminar on 3 March 2021 evaluating the opportunities and threats emerging as teething problems immediately after the operationslisation of the AfCFTA on 1 January 2021. Francois Fouche presented a keynote address: “AfCFTA: Opportunities and threats”. There were riveting debates from the delegates engaging with the presentation. 

This resulted into the formation of three groups with active members who daily share valuable information on business opportunities in Africa.  

The Biashara brand grew so much that the second instalment on 10 December 2021 attracted many more delegates.  

*** The Brandhill Africa/Empire Partner Foundation’s project team working on the preparations for the 2022 hybrid conference ***

This was followed by the second one on 31 May 2021. As this was the ultimate event celebrating the Africa Month, we partnered with the African Diplomatic Corps resident in South Africa, as led by the Dean of Diplomatic Corps and head of the DRC Diplomatic Mission, H.E. Amb Ben Mpoko. The speakers were Amb Mpoko, , Piet du Toit, President of the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce; Vusi Mabena, Executive Secretary: African Chambers of Mines And Other Mining Associations in Africa (the ACMMAA represents national chambers of mines in 32 African countries); CEO: Mbhuduma Business Solutions; and Francois Fouche who gave the keynote address: “Harnessing AfCFTA as one of the key building blocks of postCOVID-19 recovery”. We were privileged to bring onboard Made by Coco, an emerging cosmetics company to promote its products. 

Then the third webinar focused on the film sector, and we were privileged to host Hollywood-based two-time Academy Award winner, Pietro Scalia. This took place during this week on 1 September (see a feature on him in this week’s edition). Scalia won an Oscar for editing “Black Hawk Down”, a seminal movie that was based on the humiliating defeat America suffered at the hands of the rebel leader, Mohammed Farah Aidid, in Somalia.  

*** Participants – sandwiched between Pumela Salela, Country Manager: Brand SA and Golden Neswiswi, former Deputy SA’s High Commissioner: UK – at the 2022 conference ***

By the way, the total number of awards Scalia was nominated for or won are more than half my age. Hosting him here in Johannesburg was a moment that many companies, cities and countries would die to have. I also had the pleasure of setting up a few meetings for him around the city – including one with former President Kgalema Motlanthe and Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, organised a special tour of their facility for us. 

The delegates, from all over the continent included Abdul Mogale, President of the National Writers of South Africa (NWASA); Shane Maja, Chief Director at Gauteng’s Department of Sport, Arts and Culture; Mokonenyana Molete, a veteran television broadcaster; and, Makatisha Motsepe-Mphuloane, Chef and Managing Director of the Makatisha Culinary Effects. The delegates represented all value chains of the film industry. 

These three quarterly events culminated into an annual conference which was held on 10 December 2020. 

*** Delegates at the 2022 conference ***

What we are?

Brandhill Africa (Pty) Ltd is a Johannesburg-based competitive identity and public diplomacy agency which was registered in May 2016. The crown on top is this year my company and I were each given Business Execellence Awards by the US-based World Confederation of Businesses.

These accolades came after I was nominated again by the World CEO Rankings Board as “The World CEO of the Year” – this was a second nomination after the 2020 first one. I’m glad to say after all the votes were counted, I managed to be ranked number 16 out of 620 nominees from all over the world – and I was ranked 2nd in Africa after Winifred Kamuya, CEO of International Renaissance Centre, who is based in Kenya. 

We were also privileged last year when the World Brand Congress bestowed upon Brandhill Africa™ the “Best Brand Award” at its “Brand Leadership Awards 2021” on 15 July 2021 in recognition of its work in managing the brand reputation of Africa as a viable destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) while at the same time to help open foreign market access opportunities for “Made in Africa” service and product brands. 

We have signed strategic partnerships with UNISA Enterprises and Enterprises UP (University of Pretoria) – both are revenue generating agencies of the two universities. The partnership with the two grants us, in addition to the normal academic faculties including their business schools, access to cutting edge research. Our interest in UP is primarily it’s Future Africa Institute and the fact that Vice Chancellor Prof Tawana Kupe has just been elected as the Chairperson of the Advisory Board of the African Alliance Partnership – a consortium of ten universities from African countries and 

Michigan State University. Growth Diagnostics (in collaboration with the North-West University Business School walked this journey with us from September 2020 as they supported us and contributed editorials regularly in our news portal. 

We signed a three-year strategic partnership with Proudly South African in January 2021.

We also signed a strategic partnership contract with the African Agri Council (AAC) – which has members in the agriculture and agribusiness sector across the continent. 

All these humble efforts are eloquently captured in my latest book, “De/constructing brand Africa: A Practitioner’s Perspective” – which we distribute directly and is also available on Sokukuu, Amazon and soon on Take-a-lot e-commerce platforms.

*** Saul Molobi celebrating the book launch with Margaret Canca, Business Development Executive: African Business Council ***

2022: The year that was

This year for me is best summed up by Charles Dickens in his seminal work, “A tale of two cities”, when he muses: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

*** Saul Molobi with Coretta Mohale, CEO: Green World Africa ***

Yes, every morning as an entrepreneur in a country where the SMME ecosystem isn’t geared to support us, I woke up with contradicting thoughts: trying very hard to draw strength from my inner self while there are dissenting voices wailing in my sub-conscious chipping away doubt from my self confidence attempting to discourage me from continuing with my entrepreneurial pursuits. Often when I was at my lowest ebb, I would then get a call or text message from someone saying: “Thank you for doing an excellent work, it has inspired me to do something…” This will then reenergise me and bring back to my senses my resolve to do what I committed myself to while knowing that the mammoth task of managing Africa’s reputation is unsolicited, it is the mission I personally chose to embark upon, and that I was quite conscious of the daunting difficulties that lay ahead that demanded selfless sacrifice and unwavering commitment. I have decided to join a movement of the gallant groundbreaking entrepreneurs in my country and across the continent who have vowed to start something out of their sheer determination and knowledge. These are those who are responding to the claims by business schools that there is no adequate number of case studies of black entrepreneurs – beyond the likes of Richard Maponya, Sam Motsuenyane, Godfrey “The Godfather” Baloi and Habakuk Sikwani. While doyens of black entrepreneurs built their empires in sectors that provided products/good for consumer’s everyday livelihood, I chose a new field altogether: knowledge production, packaging and distribution. This is the road less travelled by our people. I have been working tirelessly 24/7 while inspired by the biblical verses, Proverbs 6:6-8, that proclaims: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise…”

So let me thank you all our stakeholders for walking this journey with me throughout this year. These are my corporate partners; those high profile individuals who agreed to grace my events with their presence as speakers and delegates sacrificing their precious time to attend; my readers; those who bought my books; those who tune into my jazz music programme, “Sunset Serenade”, on 101.9 Chai FM; those media outlets that recognise me as a thought leader by regularly interviewing me on matters pertaining to Africa – namely, 101.9 Chai FM, SAFM, Thobela FM, Radio Bop SA and News Central (a television channel on DSTV in Nigeria); and conference organisers who have invited me as a speaker or workshop facilitator. Let me thank all those individuals and  institutions which have acknowledged my effort and nominated me for a number of awards. You all make this difficult entrepreneurial journey worth sacrificing (the benefits of working for a big corporate, government or state owned company) for. I salute you. I hope to continue making a difference in our people lives in 2023 by giving them hope that it is possible…

Enjoy your festive season and Jambo Africa Online will be back on 13 January 2023. Do know Brandhill Africa™ remains open for business throughout this December into January – taking a full festive break is the luxury afforded by those who are not in search of business opportunities.

Kindest regards,

Saul Molobi (FCIM)

PublisherJambo Africa Online
Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: Brandhill Africa™

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– a pan African competitive identity and public diplomacy agency decorated with the “Best Brand Award” at the World Brand Congress’ “Brand Leadership Awards 2021” –

A Strategic Partner to UNISA Enterprises (Pty) Ltd
A Strategic Partner to Enterprises UP (University of Pretoria)
A Strategic Partner to Proudly South African (Proudly SA)
A Supporting Partner to the African Agri Council (AAC)
A member of the World Free Zones Organisation (World FZO)
A member of the African Tourism Board (ATB) and World Tourism Network (WTN)