Government-to-government (G2G) discussions are ongoing between Qatar and South Africa for the establishment of direct links between Hamad Port and the Port of Richards Bay, according to ambassador Faisal Mooza.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a business meeting hosted by the Qatar Chamber on Wednesday, Mooza said negotiations are running currently between Milaha, Qatar's leading maritime and logistics company, and state-owned Transnet, South Africa’s corporate entity in charge of the country’s freight logistics network.

As the deepest port in South Africa, Mooza said, Richards Bay could distribute goods locally and to Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and other landlocked countries in the African continent. For Qatar, the ambassador said, South Africa could utilise Hamad Port as a re-export hub for the Middle East and countries elsewhere.

“Through Transnet, which runs eight ports and 23,000km of railroads in South Africa, we believe we could offer Qatar some expertise and in return, the country could invest in our infrastructure space,” Mooza explained.

Mooza also invited Qatar to explore the investment opportunities from South Africa’s national development plan, as well as Africa’s 2063 vision, which aims to transform the entire continent into a free trade zone. He said 50 of the 54 countries in Africa have already signed free trade agreements.

Mooza said the free trade agreement would make Africa trade with itself. The ambassador said statistics revealed that only 16% of Africa’s trade is taking place among African countries, while the rest is with European countries and the US.

“Africa is going to a very important trading partner for everybody in the world. In terms of infrastructure, there are a lot of developments expected in this sector, so we would also like to invite Qatar again to look at Africa.

“In fact, Qatar is beginning to focus on Africa as a continent, having investments in countries, such as Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, and Somalia, among others, so Qatar is on the right track,” Mooza stressed.

He also said South Africa is looking at the agro-processing industry as one of the sectors that could increase the volume of its bilateral trade with Qatar, which stood at $350mn in 2018.

During the meeting, Qatar Chamber first vice chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari said South Africa has investments worth $8.9bn in Qatar, especially in the energy sector.

Al-Kuwari also underscored the Qatari private sector’s interest to identify investment opportunities in South Africa, noting that “it is one of the strongest economies in Africa.”

He said Qatar “welcomes South African investments,” adding that the economy “is open and full of investment opportunities that attract foreign investors.”

Harold Manamela of the Department of Trade and Industry led the South African delegation represented by around 20 companies specialising in several industrial sectors. He delivered a presentation expounding on South Africa’s economy and investment opportunities.

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