THE INDIA - SOUTH AFRICA Business Summit 2018, tag-lined “United by Legacy, Unified for Prosperity,” was organized by the High Commission of India in Pretoria in partnership with the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Department of Trade & Industry (the Dti), the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), Invest India, the Confederation of Indian Industry, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The much anticipated India-South Africa Business Summit 2018 (ISABS 2018) concluded at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg with a session on ‘India-South Africa Relations – The Way Forward’, in which noted speakers and distinguished experts/diplomats from India and South Africa including those from the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), DIRCO, DTI and business leaders sought to chart out the way forward for the India-South Africa relationship.
The first day of the event, on Sunday, 29 April 2018 opened with the India-South Africa CEOs’ Forum, Curtain Raiser Dinner and a unique ‘Tribute to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi : Khadi Couture’ produced by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Gavin Rajah and South African designer Stephen van Eeden using India’s hand-woven fabric, the khadi associated with Mahatma Gandhi.
Other notable aspects of the two-day ISABS 2018 was the display of Indian and South African fusion dance forms – “Pulse” (a fusion of Bharatnatyam and Zulu) – performed by local artists and also the fusion of Indian and South African cuisine served to the guests manifesting the historical, cultural and people to people connect of the two countries. The performance by the Grammy Award-winning South African flautist, producer and composer, Wouter Kellerman mesmerized the audience. The event also saw the launching of a book “The Red Fort Declaration – The Legacy 20 Years On, Commemoration of 20 Years of Strategic Partnership”, authored by noted journalist, Fakir Hassen.
The second day of the two-day ISABS 2018 started with the “Report back to the Ministers by the India-South Africa CEOs Forum” wherein issues concerning trade, investment, promotion of business were compiled and placed before the two Ministers for action.
The opening plenary session was graced with keynote addresses delivered by Shri Suresh Prabhu, Honourable Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Government of India; Rob Davies Minister of Trade and Industry, and Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises.
The ISABS 2018 also saw the participation of Premier of Gauteng David Makhura, as well as Ministers and representatives from SADC Countries including Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia, top government officials, CEOs and industry specialists from India and South Africa.
These included Anil Agarwal, Chairman & Founder, Vedanta Resources (largest Indian investor in Africa); Sipho Maseko, CEO, Telkom; Deepak Bagla, MD & CEO, Invest India; Yunus Hoosen, Acting Head InvestSA; Rakesh Bharti Mittal, President-CII & VP of Bharti Enterprises; Adi Godrej, Co-chair of India-SA CEO Forum & Chairman Godrej Group; Vuyani Jarana, CEO, South African Airways; Colin Coleman, Partner Goldman Sachs and Vivian Reddy, Co-chair of India-SA CEO Forum, Founder of Edison Group SA.
Davies spotlighted the rich historical relations between the two countries and said that India is an important partner of South Africa, noting that there was immense potential to grow the economic partnership between the two countries. Minister Gordhan, underscored the need for old friends India and South Africa to be a part of each other’s growth story as together they stepped into a new era of friendship and cooperation.
In her remarks, High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj observed that the India South Africa partnership was not just about the undeniable unbreakable ties of solidarity that have linked the people and the liberation movements of India and South Africa.
This partnership was also about a shared future.
Through synergies, through shared strengths and through membership in multilateral settings where the two countries sought constantly to engage, deliberate and collaborate.
The Summit also witnessed the signing of an MOU between Invest SA and Invest India, strengthening a rapidly growing economic and trade partnership between two strategic partner countries.
India and South Africa share a strategic partnership that is over 200 years old.
This year marks a significant year in India-South Africa relations, being the 25th year of establishment of diplomatic relations; 125 years of the Pietermaritzburg train ‘incident’ and the centenary of President Nelson Mandela. There are over 130 Indian companies in South Africa which have invested about US$8 billion into South Africa, employing approximately 18,000 South Africans. South African investment into India is approximately US $1 billion.
The Gauteng Growth and Development Agency played a critical role in organizing of the ISABS 2018 in the run up to the BRICS Summit due to take place in July 2018 and the ISABS 2018 was a harbinger of good things to come.