|South Africa: South African ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain|
Interview with H.E.Mr. VB Koloane
South African ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain
3 September 2009
Q1/ South Africa will host the Football World Cup in 2010. This will be the first time that this event takes place on the African continent. What are the main challenges the country will face to achieve this project?
A1/ One of the biggest challenges we will have to deal with as a country is to make sure that this event doesn’t attract international crime syndicates. Therefore we are cooperating with Interpol and other security agencies around the world in order to ensure that we identify potential threats.
I have no doubt in my mind that the Government and the country are ready for that.
Q2/ The organization of a World Cup represents a great opportunity for a country. What is South Africa expecting from that event?
A2/ We have very ambitious objectives because we believe that the World Cup 2010 benefits will spin beyond South African borders.
Most importantly we believe that after the World Cup 2010 the world will see that Africa can host any event.
Q3/ South Africa is the first economy in Africa (25% of the GDP) and has been managing fast economic growth rates in the last years. However the South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, stated in July that the country has to “attract foreign investment”. Very few Spanish companies see the country as a potential market. What are the most interesting investment opportunities for Spanish companies in South Africa?
A3/ South Africa offers great investment opportunities and I think Spanish businessmen should take them into consideration.
South Africa is a country where the middle-class has grown significantly and the demand for property has also been increasing. Despite the global economic crisis the people’s lifestyle has changed and they are demanding more and more golf estates so Spanish companies could definitely build these kinds of resorts in South Africa.
Finally, there are opportunities in the health sector, fisheries, retail, mining, telecommunications, etc.
In conclusion I can say that the South African economy is not focusing on one sector but rather offers a very wide range of opportunities in several sectors.
Q4/ The SA – Spain Annual Consultations take place with a view to strengthening bilateral political, economic and trade links between the two countries and to advance North-South relations. It was established in terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between South Africa and Spain in December 2000 and provides the legal framework for bilateral consultations and cooperation. How has been the evolution of relations between both countries since you were named Ambassador of South Africa in Spain in 2008?
A4/ There have been a lot of improvements not only because of me but of course because of my predecessor and our team. The relationship between the two countries is getting stronger and we are cooperating in many areas. For instance, next week we are receiving a group of tour operators who are coming to study Spanish at Santander’s university as part of capacity building cooperation between the Governments of Spain and South Africa.
Also, next January we will have a very important in-stock promotion at El Corte Inglés in Spain and Portugal where they will have South African products for a month. South Africa will also have a national pavilion at the Alimentaria International Food and Beverages Exhibition in Barcelona in March 2010 to showcase South African products. We hope that initiatives such as these will increase the trade between both countries in the near future.
Q5/ South Africa is still not considered as a main destination for Spanish travellers despite offering many interesting locations and activities. What message would you like to send to Spanish tourist in this regard?
A5/ It’s unfortunate that due to historical and cultural ties Spain has always been closer to Latin America and therefore there were never many tourists coming to visit our country.
Q6/ You served as Chargé d’Affaires in China. Could you tell our readers a little about your professional background as well as about your biggest satisfactions?
A6/ I’m an economist. I worked in the private sector for what today is known as SAB Miller and South African Breweries. I also worked in the provincial Government, at the national Department of Trade and Industry.
To me, being ambassador does not mean the challenges change. South Africa has a high level of unemployment and a high rate of poverty and we have to contribute towards eradicating poverty, creating jobs, attracting investment and changing African image around the world.