With Europe in the midst of recession, Africa is shaping up to be the investment destination for many companies, says Cape Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim.
Speaking today in Cape Town at a two-day summit on doing business in Africa, Bagraim said doing business in Africa "has been a good idea for a long time" and it got a "whole lot better" with some spectacular oil and gas discoveries being made off-shore of East Africa.
"Massive" natural gas reserves have been discovered off Tanzania and Mozambique, with the United States (US) energy authorities estimating the total resource in these waters could be as much as 250 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) - more than Nigeria's 187 TCF of gas.
He said the CCC together with sponsors First National Bank (FNB) and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) have put together a practical programme to empower companies looking to export into Africa, as well as support for those already in the region who would like to keep up to speed with developments and ways to drive efficiency in their businesses.
Further possibilities of investing in Africa were exciting as the United Kingdom (UK) firm Tullow Oil had found oil at Lake Albert in Uganda and would soon be producing between 150 000 and 350 000 barrels a day.
The oil field extended into the Congo and total reserves could be as much as at six billion barrels, he said, adding that the UK oil firm had also discovered oil in Kenya and they had reportedly said their discovery could dwarf their oil discovery in Uganda.
"The challenge for East Africa will be to use the resources wisely and we hope that South Africa, through its leadership of the African Union, will be able to play a role to ensure that the new wealth is processed transparently and that the people benefit," he said.
FNB Africa head of coverage Greg Usher said First Rand International strategy was strongly focused on "expansion into Africa".
He said Indian and Chinese investment had opened up growth corridors in Africa and FNB was "positioning itself to facilitate these investment flows" and leverage them in "the best possible way to obtain growth".
"The Indian and Chinese influence into Africa is a reality and one has to think strategically to make the best use of this opportunity," said Usher.
Wesgro CEO Nils Flaaten said in terms of doing business with Africa, South African investors should start utilising the opportunity by starting to export goods such as services and capital into the African continent.
Flaaten said the focus area should be in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.
For example, he said the two emerging big economy outside South Africa was Angola and Mozambique.
Earlier in his presentation, he painted a rosy picture of Western Cape regional trade saying Africa was Western Cape's fastest growing export region in 2011, although still behind Europe, which received R22billion of exports from the Western Cape while exports into Africa were exactly half of that.