Africa Scotland Business Network aims to increase business participation

Since the launch of the Africa Scotland Business Network (ASBN) in Cape Town during Africa Oil and Gas Week in November 2019, it has grown organically to a membership of 86.

The aim is to have 200 businesses on board in its "marketplace" by the end of 2020.

In collaboration with the Scottish government, ASBN is assisting a Scottish-owned training business to expand its operations in Cape Town, to train and upskill a local labour force for the oil and gas industry.

According to Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, in the period 2007 to 2016, South Africa's exports to Scotland increased by an average annual rate of 49%, while imports increased by 1.9% per annum.

Between 2003 and 2016, eleven foreign direct investment projects, totalling a capital investment of about R456 million, were recorded between Scotland and South Africa, creating 497 jobs.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde is one of the supporters of the network.

Wesgro has previously sought to bed down positive trade relations with Scotland, with a 2017 visit to Edinburgh to discuss ongoing collaboration and opportunities between the two nations.

Claire Alexander, a Scottish entrepreneur living in South Africa, believes there is a great deal of synergy between the economies of Scotland and Africa.

Steven Craig, director of Africa at Craig International, says he's hoping to support Scottish companies looking to do more business in Africa, as well as South African companies wanting to invest in Scotland.

Stephanie McDonald, a Scottish global infrastructure lawyer, says, other than a focus on oil and gas in West Africa, there's a huge opportunity gap.

“From a risk profile point of view, Africa can be a difficult place to do business. So, understandably, there has been limited attention and focus from Scotland," says McDonald.

Having identified the gap, she says, the founders of ASBN came together in the hopes of fostering closer collaboration between business, networks and government organisations.

In addition to business ventures, ASBN is liaising with a global Scottish charity, looking to increase its footprint in South Africa.

* Compiled by Carin Smith

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