SA’s Limpopo Keen On Cross-Border Business

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK South Africa’s Limpopo Province has identified agriculture, tourism and environment as some of the areas in which it wants to forge ties with the northern regions of Namibia. An 11-member business delegation is now in the country to talk to government and business people to lay the groundwork for business interaction with a larger delegation from the province which will participate at the Ongwediva Trade Fair next month (August). The head of the delegation, Charles Mamabolo who is the Senior Manager: Strategic Operations in the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, said yesterday after identifying the areas of cooperation, which also include health and human resource development, that the next step would be to sign a memorandum of understanding with those regions. The province has a draft MOU in place, which will be discussed with the South African High Commission and then with regional councils in the north for further input. Mamabolo said the MoU might be signed as early as August during the Ongwediva Trade Fair, after which the parties will see how it could be implemented. The interest in the north, according to the head of delegation, stems from High Commissioner Timothy Maseko’s visit to those areas, which are similar to Limpopo. The next step would also be for business people from the province to visit Namibia to identify business opportunities to go into or to go into partnership, with their Namibian counterparts. The delegation has so far held meetings with the Namibian Manufacturing Association, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and has also visited the Ramatex Textile Company. While in the north, they will also visit Eenhana and Oshikango town councils, the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair management, and the Export Processing Zone in Oshikango. Maseko said with what is happening on the world trade arena, neighbouring countries like Namibia and South Africa should get together to promote trade, which will later spill over to the rest of the SADC region and then to the continent. Limpopo, the far northern province of South Africa, borders Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana, but it is said to be closest to Katima Mulilo than any other areas. Emely Khunou Senior Manager: Promotion of Trade and Investment, Limpopo, said the province’s trade with the other countries in the region has been minimal and not up to the point where it has tangible value. Most of its exports are destined for the European Union, South East Asia and China, among many other destinations. With the corridors of the Trans Kalahari and Maputo, Khunou said, the region could see lots of growth and improvement in the lives of the people. Limpopo is an agricultural and mining hub, which has big platinum and diamond deposits and is also where most of South Africa’s tomatoes, mangoes, papayas and avocadoes are produced. Some of the business opportunities that exist in the province in agriculture and mining include production of organic vegetables for export, essential oil production and distillation, production of macadamia nuts for export, development of new coal mines, a power station for energy production and jewelry and refining projects from platinum. The province has a population of 5.5 million and has become the fourth largest economy of the nine provinces in South Africa from being the smallest in 2003. Mamabolo said the region had an economy of N$31 billion, which in 2003, grew to N$81 billion. Some of the institutions that support investments in that country are the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Small Enterprise Development Agency and the National Empowerment Fund, while at provincial level the institutions include Trade and Investment Limpopo, Limpopo Business Support Agency, Limpopo Manufacturing Advisory Center and the Limpopo Economic Enterprise Development.