Alan Winde, the Western Cape’s Economic Development and Tourism Minister, is in Luanda with a delegation of 78 South African companies, including 21 from the Western Cape, on a trade and investment mission to Angola.
At a pre-trip briefing session, Winde explained that the mission forms part of the Western Cape Government's plan to increase exports from the region and grow the local oil and gas sector by forging trade links with the West African corridor.
Winde said: "There is a serious story developing in West Africa fuelled by the discovery of oil reserves off that coastline. This has resulted in an oil rush on those countries, which have experienced significant growth.
We need to get a foothold into these markets early on. In addition to infrastructure upgrades and a demand for fresh produce that we can supply, we are strategically located to become the repair centre for their oil vessels."
Angola is currently the third largest economy in Africa, and the top destination for foreign direct investment into Africa. In 2009, Angola garnered a 2.6% share of the Western Cape's export market and a 6.7% share of the province's import market.
The Western Cape oil and gas industry is estimated to be worth R1.5-billion in repairs and maintenance and R1-billion in services to the region's economy. The Western Cape’s competitive edge in this sector results from proximity to the West African oil fields, two deep-water ports at Saldanha Bay and Cape Town and skills in oil and gas vessel repair.
The Western Cape Government believes this sector is key to achieving growth and jobs. Earlier this year, the national government recognised this too, and listed oil and gas as a priority sector in the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP).
The Western Cape can move fresh produce easily and quickly between the Western Cape and Angola.
Nils Flaatten, the CEO of the Western Cape's official trade and investment promotion agency Wesgro, said: "Western Cape companies are not yet operating in Angola on a large scale which presents a huge opportunity for us to expand into this burgeoning market. This trip is designed to increase Angolan appetite for Western Cape products, with the ultimate goal of reversing the negative trade balance between our nations and growing Western Cape companies and services."
Winde added: "In order to stimulate growth and create jobs, we need to become serious players in the world's new markets. We are strategically placed to become the springboard into Africa and must take advantage of this early opportunity to contribute to the growth of our own continent.”
Winde is playing an increasingly efective role in tourism marketing and is shown above opening a hotel in Cape Town with Guy Stehlik, the owner, a few months ago.