by GIFT NDOLWANE in EMALAHLENI , Mpumalanga
EMALAHLENI – THE Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), South Africa’s development finance institution, is intensifying plans to increase its footprint in the continent.
It has encouraged local companies to expand beyond borders and explore vast opportunities present in the continent.
The call came as the national development finance institution officially opened its new office in the coal-rich Emalahleni in the eastern Mpumalanga Province. it is the IDC’s 25th office countrywide.
In an interview at the sidelines of the event, IDC Chief Executive Officer, Geoffrey Qhena urged Mpumalanga entrepreneurs to look beyond the province and cast their eyes wider to Mozambique, the neighbouring country that borders the province.
Qhena said there was immense potential for growth in the continent overall hence South African entrepreneurs must keep abreast with current affairs.
He urged local entrepreneurs to engage other institutions like African Development Bank to learn more about the opportunities.
“As we commemorate Africa Month (May), we need to be preoccupied with what is happening in the continent,” Qhena said.
“If you in SA your market is 60 million (based on population). If you are in the Southern African Development Community, it is 3 million. Your market is over 1 billion if you operate in the continent,” he added.
He thus urged local businesses to make the most of the advantages presented by such population statistics.
Qhena pointed out opportunities were huge in the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, among other industries.
Mashweu Matsiela, the Mpumalanga IDC Regional Manager, echoed Qhena’s sentiments.
He said the organisation aimed to become a central player in the region.
Matsiela disclosed they were making inroads in Mozambique and Kenya, where we put up a hotel. It is also exploring projects in mining.
“We really want to contribute to the development of the whole continent as we are doing for South Africa,” Matsiela said.
IDC is certainly practicing what it is preaching to the entrepreneurs.
“About in 12 percent of our activity in value lies in the continent. We are aiming to increase to 15 percent. Hopefully we can grow. We are partner with a number of entities in the continent,” Qhena said.
“IDC predominantly does business in South Africa but our mandate allows us to go across the continent. So, that gives us an opportunity to expand to rest of continent. It also it helps that we develop those economies in a number of sectors,” he said.
On a regional level, IDC is focusing on infrastructure development and energy.
The Emalahleni office will enable IDC strengthen its visibility and be more accessible in the broader Mpumalanga.
The establishment of the office is also a response to the request from potential clients and the broader business community in Emalahleni, who indicated time and travelling constraints to access the outlet in Nelspruit also in the province.
According to Matsiela, the local Nkangala and Gert Sibande districts collectively account for 73 percent of IDC’s current total investment exposure of approximately R4,66 billion in Mpumalanga.
In the financial year ended March 3, 2017, the value of IDC’s funding approvals for businesses from Mpumalanga amounted to approximately R2,2 billion, which helped to create and save over 4 000 permanent jobs.
In the 2017 financial year, IDC posted a profit growing to R2,2 billion, and increase in funding approvals to R15,3 billion, with marked increase in approvals for black industrialists, women and youth entrepreneurs.
IDC approvals are expected to create 18 192 new jobs and support the retention of 2 675 jobs that would otherwise have been lost.
Its balance sheet remains strong with assets growing to R129,8 billion mainly driven by 11 percent improvement in the listed portfolio as well as new approvals.
– CAJ News