Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane outlined South Africa’s competitive advantages for Emirati businesspeople and investors at a roundtable at the JW Marriot Marquis Hotel in Dubai on Wednesday.


Addressing the roundtable, organised by Brand South Africa, were Brand South Africa chairperson Chichi Maponya, Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola and Transnet Freightrail CEO Siyabongo Gama.


“With South Africa about to enter our third generation of democracy, we are focusing on diversifying our traditional economic partner base with developing countries in order to deliver on our 2030 vision,” Matola said afterwards.


South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) – also known as Vision 2030 – is a policy blueprint for eliminating poverty and reducing inequality in the country by 2030. Among other things, it identifies the key constraints to faster growth and presents a roadmap to a more inclusive economy that will address the country’s socio-economic imbalances.


Increased foreign investment, as well as increased export of value-added products, were crucial to achieving the NDP’s objectives, Matola said.


“The UAE is key to this strategy, and as the country begins its preparations for Expo 2020, this is the ideal time to showcase South Africa’s value proposition and expertise in key areas such as infrastructure and healthcare. South Africa is also keen to support the UAE’s developmental agenda in the years to come.”


South Africans have contributed to the development of the United Arab Emirates in the construction, health and financial industries, Brand South Africa said ahead of this week’s engagement, noting that the landmark Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai had been build by South African company Murray & Roberts.


According to the agency, the UAE is the 24th largest investor in South Africa and its largest trading partner in the Gulf region, with South African exports growing from Dh3.011-billion in 2009 to Dh3.055-billion in 2010, while non-oil exports from the UAE jumped from Dh1.26-billion to Dh2.41-billion.


There is also a growing community of South African nationals in the UAE, stimulated in part by a growing demand for South African skills, and in part by the more than 135 South African companies that have a presence in the country.


The South African delegation was due to interact with members of this community on Thursday before concluding their two-day visit.


“South Africa’s competitiveness and reputation must be driven by what we do rather than what we say,” Matola said in a statement on Tuesday. “Each citizen in the country and outside therefore has a role to play in improving our country’s reputation.”