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.
Another challenge will be to prevent people from staying illegally in the country after the World Cup 2010.
We also want this event to be an African event and not just a South African event. It has to be a unique FIFA event with an African flavor and respond to all the challenges we will face bringing solutions so all the supporters can enjoy the World Cup 2010.

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.
One can already see some of these benefits through infrastructure improvements around the country, tourism capacity increase, hotels upgrading, etc.
We also expect tourism figures to increase substantially because many football supporters will want to come back to visit the country with their families or friends. The money that the tourists will spend in the country will have a multiplied effect in the economy and will result in job creation as well.

Most importantly we believe that after the World Cup 2010 the world will see that Africa can host any event.

“We want this event to be an African 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.
The South African economy has been growing for the last years at a rate of around 4% or 5% and we have an important market of 48 million people. There are investment opportunities for instance in the rail infrastructure and in the energy sectors. We are already talking to some companies in Spain (Iberdrola) which are extremely interested in investing in South Africa.
Agriculture is another interesting sector because it is labor intensive and we believe that because of the opposite seasons between Spain and South Africa we could set a particular program where both countries would cooperate, guaranteeing supplies from one country to the other depending on the season.

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.   
South Africa offers from an landscape point of view one of the most scenic spots in the world. In 20 minutes you can move from a metropolis with neon lights and big buildings like you can find in New York to a natural park observing animals and nature.
Besides, people are extremely welcoming and friendly which is another point to take into consideration as a tourist.  


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.
This background gives me a good understanding of what are the important factors to attract foreign investments.

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.  

|Home| |About Us |News| |Business| |Tourism| |Art & Culture| |Contact Us|