We at Polyglot Group are proud to have sponsored this year’s South African French Business Forum, which took place from 3–5 October 2018 at the Hyatt in Johannesburg.
The South African French Business Forum or Forum D’Affaires Afrique Du Sud aims at developing business in the South African market, by strengthening its trade and diplomatic relationships with France.
Those of us who attended the event included myself, Nishaat, and Dimitri – all representatives from Polyglot Group’s African Headquarters in Cape Town. With well-established operational teams in both South Africa and France, it was the perfect chance to unite the two countries and markets.
The title of the Forum this year was The New Dawn! – a concept more than fitting given South Africa’s recent political and economic history. This theme really reflected the positive and hopeful desires of the South African people – to welcome the “light at the end of the tunnel”, as our country emerges and rises out of a tumultuous period.
Our primary reasons for sponsoring this key event were three-fold:
– Some of our loyal clients, including Leroy Merlin and Hyatt Regency Hotel, were also involved in the event. On top of this, we were able to connect with other decision-makers in the space, reinforcing relationships and discussing how our global-meets-local partnership could help them grow and expand.
– The Forum attendees represented a very important demographic, as a consultancy dedicated to assisting foreign companies with their international (in this case, South African) expansion.
– This opportunity was a perfect precursor to our next African business-related event – Ambition Africa. Ambition Africa will take place in Paris, from 22–23 October 2018. We hope to see many familiar and new faces there!
South Africa intends to implement big plans for economic recovery and growth, announcing that “the most developed economy in Sub-Saharan Africa is in the process of full renewal” [“L’économie la plus développée d’Afrique Sub-Saharienne est en plein renouveau”].
The Forum attendees included various high-profile figures in the South African and French trade, business, and public sectors. Almost 400 French companies are established in South Africa, and together, they directly employ 38,000 people.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was present, together with a delegation of three to four Federal Ministers.
Other big names amongst participants from France (as organised by MEDEF International) will be JC Decaux CEO Jean-Charles Decaux and Mazars CEO Hervé Hélias.
Key speakers from South Africa included ambassadors to the French Embassy in SA, representatives from Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), African Entrepreneurs Council (AEC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the French South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FSACCI).
One of the most interesting workshops for Polyglot Group focused on A New Approach: Building Skills for the Future. Education and building skills is a huge challenge for South Africa.
The South African population is very young, but infrastructure for universities and high schools, for example, remains insufficient. As the education system is saturated, companies play a huge role in building marketable skills for the workforce. Ultimately, the workshop affirmed the pressing responsibility of companies to partner with the education system, in order to “build skills for the future” of South Africa.
The country is fast developing a strong market economy, as one of the world’s leading mining and mineral-processing countries. South Africa is also the only African country member of the BRICS and G20, and presents promising possibilities for big industry moving forward.