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A small business delegation from South Africa visited Ethiopia and Sudan this month. Yahieyard Abate Deputy Director of the Addis Ababa Chamber and Sectoral Association (AACSA) said the business delegation is part of a series of bilateral agreements to improve relations.
Education, agriculture, tourism and human resources are the major areas they see potential. The Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce (JCCI) with its membership of 3,000 arrived along with a major construction company, Pilot Crushtec Limited which supplies crushing equipment and an agricultural company, S & V holdings.
“We expect in the near future four successive business delegations to come from South Africa,” said Yahieyard adding that big deals start with small steps.
Sivu Maqungo, Chief Director of the International Relations and Cooperation Department in the East African region said Ethiopia is in the psyche of many South Africans because it provided shelter and military training to the African National Congress (ANC) including most famously Nelson Mandela about five decades ago during their liberation struggle against Apartheid South Africa.
“Relationships are very important in business and I’m responsible for facilitating them,” said Sivu adding that the fast growing construction industry has brought in this major South African construction company.
His department is working in to promote business relations by telling South African about Ethiopian business, assessing Ethiopia’s business environment and promoting specific business opportunities in Ethiopia.
“It’s different when a business opportunity in Ethiopia is being told by South Africans to their countrymen as opposed to representatives from the Ethiopian government,” said Sivu surmising that a representative of JCCI came to talk about their company’s potential.
The trade relations between South Africa and Ethiopia have been growing both in value and volume in the last couple of years from USD 42 million in 2004 to USD 95 million in 2011.
Ethiopia’s exports to the country include dried kidney beans, white pea beans, coffee, roses, ginger, leather and semi manufactured gold while its imports from South Africa consist of coal, petroleum, medicines, explosives and vehicles.