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South African and Italian business and political leaders set to grow business in Europe and Africa at South Africa-Italy Summit

More than 100 top executives, economists, ministers and industry experts are set to meet later this year at the “South Africa-Italy Summit” to discuss how trade, investments and partnerships can be boosted between the two countries and continents.

The high-level Summit – by invitation only – will be held from 1-2 October in Cape Town, and promises to build a community of leaders from South Africa and Italy to reinforce the strategic relationship between the two countries. Discussions and networking opportunities will focus on how the two countries can bring mutual benefits to their respective economies, providing a platform for companies entering and expanding both into Africa and Europe. The Summit follows the successful inauguration of the event last year.

“Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa remain high on the investment agenda of European countries such as Italy”, says Managing Partner of The European House – Ambrosetti, Valerio De Molli. “This high-level Summit for leading business and political figures from Africa and Italy aims to provide South African and Italian leaders with innovative ideas to shape their business and development strategies. In fact a large emphasis is on promoting small and medium enterprises through matching competencies and technologies between the two countries.”

South Africa is a key market for Italy in Sub-Saharan Africa – about 30% of Italian exports to SSA are directed to South Africa. Meanwhile metals and mining represent about 80% of total exports from South Africa to Italy. “South Africa and Italy can obtain great benefits by strengthening their relations,” says Ambassador of Italy in Pretoria, Vincenzo Schioppa. “South Africa is a growing economy and potential market for Italian companies, while Italy is a potential market for South Africa’s products and offers great investment opportunities.”

The Sub-Saharan region has experienced GDP growth of more than 6% on average over the past decade, with household final consumption expected to increase fourfold from 2000 by 2020. “If you look at Sub-Saharan Africa, it is booming and is rapidly expanding its consumer markets,” adds Ambassador of South Africa to Italy, Nomatemba Tambo. “There are huge investment opportunities for collaboration between Italian and South African companies in the fields of manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, agribusiness and transport.”

There exists a long-standing tradition of cooperation and Italian companies who have operated for years in South Africa, including in positions of excellence in some key sectors such as energy, infrastructure and automotive. Therefore, while Italy could provide an additional gateway to Europe for South African companies, South Africa provides the best business platform for Italian companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“South Africa is a crossroads of economic opportunities for Italy throughout the continent. Partnerships are very important in South Africa, offering enormous opportunities especially in some sectors such as infrastructures, food and agriculture and energy”, remarks Alec Erwin, Chairman of UBU Investment Holdings, former South African Minister of Public Enterprises, and of Trade and Industry, and now a member of the South Africa-Italy Summit Think Tank.

On the other hand, South Africa requires medium-high technology SMEs in which Italy has strong expertise, know-how and excellence. Italian manufacturing accounts for 4,4m employees and 18% of the country’s total economy. The two countries have complementary industrial systems and Italian companies can partner with South African SMEs, which contribute about half of South Africa’s GDP.

The second edition of the South Africa-Italy Summit comes at a time when Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach a number of political and strategic milestones. With a new Industrial Development Policy Framework aimed at improving the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) industrial capacity and economic diversification issued in 2014 and a revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan due in 2015, renewed investment to the tune of US$64bn is expected to develop cross-border infrastructure in selected areas of energy, transport, tourism, water, ICT and meteorology.

“We’re looking forward to exploring many possible areas of collaboration between South Africa and Italy, including SADC regional projects involving energy, infrastructure and ICT as well as collaboration on health, education, gender equality and other priority issues on the SADC’s agenda”, adds Paolo Borzatta, Senior Partner The European House -Ambrosetti.

What sets the South Africa-Italy Summit apart is its ability to link major issues of strategic and political engagement with the pragmatism of the business community. In fact, the 2015 Summit will promote the debate among business and political leaders about key issues such as the role of the agribusiness value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa, the importance of collaborative models with SMEs and entrepreneurship for growth, the role of urban development vis-à-vis the adoption of smart technologies, and the challenge of innovation in the financial and banking system.

The South Africa-Italy Summit initiative is promoted by The European House – Ambrosetti together with the South African partner Grown Consulting. The European House – Ambrosetti is among the most esteemed management consultancy firms worldwide and has been named best private Think Tank in Italy and 4th in Europe in the University of Pennsylvania’s “2015 Global Go To Think Tanks Report”, providing economic, political and strategic analysis. The second edition of the South African-Italy Summit is supported by multinational companies and institutions, such as Standard Bank, CLN-MA Group, Building Energy, Perago (SIA Group), Bonelli Erede Pappalardo Law Firm, Fondazione Sicilia, DHL Global Forwarding and Banca Agricola Commerciale.

The European House: Ambrosetti.

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