South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has funded the visit of the six-member group as part of the department’s efforts to increase trade and investments between South Africa and South Sudan.
General Secretary of the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce and leader of the mission, Simon Akuei Deng, is optimistic that the mission will bear good results that will see more South African companies investing in his country.
“There is already a presence of South African companies in South Sudan and we are on a mission to woo more companies to follow the example of SAB Miller, MTN and Standard Bank to come to our country and invest. Investment opportunities are abounding in the country and are there for South African businesses to explore,” said Deng on Tuesday.
The South Sudanese businesspeople also participated in the two-day Infrastructure Africa Business Forum, which started in Sandton on Monday.
South Sudan, which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, is also looking to identify investment and trade opportunities in South Africa, with the aim of increasing trade and investment between the two countries.
“Contrary to what the media feeds people about our country, South Sudan is open for business. South African companies that are doing business there can testify to this. There are unlimited investment opportunities in the mining, agricultural and road infrastructure sectors in the country,” said Deng.
He expressed confidence that businesspeople, who are willing to venture into South Sudan, will not be discouraged by the country’s political situation.
“Businesspeople are risk takers by nature and are willing to take calculated risks everywhere they invest their money. All countries have their own risks and daring businesspeople turn risks into opportunities,” he said.
Speaking during a panel discussion on potential investments in South Sudan at the Infrastructure Africa Business Forum, the dti’s Foreign Economic Representative in South Sudan, Dr Julius Nyalunga, said the country has a huge economic potential, despite the socio-political challenges that it experiences.
“This is the opportune time for South African companies to venture into South Sudan and look for opportunities to explore in that country. Things are shaping up very well and investment opportunities are opening up in various sectors of the South Sudanese economy,” said Nyalunga.
South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the development of infrastructure is essential for Africa’s growth and development.
“As the government of South Africa, we categorically stated that the development of infrastructure is an essential and absolutely fundamental catalyst for regional integration for increased inter-regional trade and for industrialisation in Africa. Therefore, infrastructure development lies at the very heart of our efforts to promote high levels of inclusive growth and development throughout the continent,” said Minister Davies.
At the closure of the forum, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Trade Invest Africa (TIA), Lerato Mataboge, said the conference has been a success that African countries can build upon for the development of infrastructure.
“The conference was successful in many ways. It brought together policymakers, Ministers, businesspeople and financiers to be in conversation about what we need to do as a continent to deliver on infrastructure development,” said Mataboge.
She said that currently, 70% to 80% of the infrastructure spending on the continent is carried by government.
“This is not sustainable. We need more private sector participation in financing infrastructure. There were also creative ways of financing infrastructure development on the continent, such as using pension funds, which was proposed in the conference, compared to the traditional ways of using bank loans,” she said.
Over 300 delegates across the African continent attended the conference.