Donna Ennis, project director for the MBDA Business Center at EI2, represented Georgia Tech at the South African Summit Oct. 4 -16, 2011. The mission of the summit was to promote the growth of U.S. manufacturing exporting and U.S. minority business enterprises (MBEs) by helping them to learn more about opportunities in South Africa.
The goals of the summit were to (1) help create jobs in the U.S. economy, (2) provide MBEs with direct market exposure for contracting opportunities with U.S. automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in South Africa, (3) identify business opportunities for MBEs with South African business enterprises in the automotive industry and (4) provide market information for a successful entry into the South African market from government agencies. The automotive sector in South Africa is regarded as the leading manufacturing sector and contributed to 5.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2009.
The Summit was promoted by Navistar, Cummins, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the National Minority Supplier Development Council and the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, and representatives from those organizations also attended the summit. While in South Africa, the summit attendees met with delegates from the South Africa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and representatives from the Automotive Industry Development Center.
The summit included meetings and presentations in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town. In Pretoria, the group met with DTI Director Charles Manuel and DTI Gauteng Tooling Initiative President Henk Snyman. The group also toured Navistar’s truck assembly facility located outside Johannesburg. An overview of the operations was discussed and procurement opportunities available were outlined to the group. The Navistar tour was followed by a brief tour of the Cummins engines facility.
In Johannesburg, the South African International Motor Show was the main attraction. The show was organized by the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers, which was established to represent the interests of the automotive components industry. The association includes 190 national member companies with 230 regional manufacturing sites.
Following the trade show, the group visited Cape Town where they met with South African delegates including Laura Peinke of the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency and John McEvan of the National Secretary of the Tool Making Association in South Africa. The discussions and presentations centered on investment options in the Western Cape and identification of primary industries in the area, specifically in the automotive industry. A business matchmaking session was held in Cape Town with one-on-one business meetings and a business opportunity fair with suppliers.
The summit resulted in matchmaking opportunities with more than 50 South African suppliers and the introduction to four incentive programs by the South African government for the automotive industry. Several companies, including Georgia-based Dover Staffing, a client of the MBDA Business Center, discovered potential business opportunities in South Africa.
Since the summit ended, a debriefing meeting with MBEs and corporations was held at the MBDA’s Atlanta National Enterprise Office. In addition, several meetings have been held with representatives of the South African government and the organizations that promoted the summit as they discuss and develop ways in which interested parties will forge ahead with this partnership between U.S. and South African companies.
While the automotive industry was the focus of this summit, the need exists for U.S. companies to do business in South Africa in other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, technology, workforce development and training.