The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) says it has recently signed a Co-operation Agreement with the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) which opens up official trade relations for Eastern Cape companies with Botswana, Central Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
As a direct spin-off of the agreement, ECDC will in April 2018 host a business delegation from Botswana which should conclude business to business agreements with Eastern Cape companies they have common trading interests with. ECDC has already issued a call to Eastern Cape-based businesses who wish to form part of the trade mission. The Botswana delegation has expressed an interest in meeting companies operating in sectors such as agricultural products: dairy farming, ostrich farming, piggery, floriculture, processed food, crops, Business Process Outsourcing, Information and Communication Technology, energy (solar), textiles, processed meat, manufactured products and tyre recycling.
“The agreement signed on October 31 follows an invitation by BITC to ECDC to attend the Global Investment Forum 2017 in Botswana. Signed on the side-lines of the Global Investment Forum, the agreement opens up trade relations between Botswana businesses and those located in the Eastern Cape. This agreement follows a successful mission to Botswana by the ECDC’s investment and trade promotion head in September.
The ECDC views Botswana as a gateway into SADC and Central Africa. The Eastern Cape chose Botswana for three reasons. The Eastern Cape is a nett importer of goods and commodities from Botswana and therefore an opportunity exists for Eastern Cape-based businesses to improve trade with Botswana. Secondly, Botswana plays host to the seat of the SADC Secretariat, a regional body co-ordinating political and economic relations amongst all the 15 SADC member states,” says ECDC head of trade and investment promotion Thabo Shenxane.
Shenxane says ECDC’s main interest is to promote trade, tourism and investments in all the 15 SADC member countries for the Eastern Cape. This means the Eastern Cape should also start producing commodities needed by the SADC member states. Thirdly, Botswana is positioning itself as an entry into Central Africa by virtue of its favourable location.
“This is a potentially profitable opportunity for Eastern Cape businesses to trade directly in the continent and we need entrepreneurs in the Eastern Cape to step up and see the continent as a platform for business. The ECDC will be hosting a range of seminars next year on how to trade with the continent, which should open doors for the province to create employment opportunities,” says Shenxane.
Even though Botswana has a fairly small population compared to the Eastern Cape, its economy is currently on the upswing.
A clear programme of action will be developed and communicated to all stakeholders in the province in order to create value for businesses in the Eastern Cape through this partnership. The ECDC is currently looking forward to entering into such trade and investment agreements with other regional bodies in the continent. Going forward, the ECDC will be putting a lot more emphasis on creating trading opportunities for Eastern Cape-based businesses within the continent.