As the influence and presence of Muslims is felt the world over, Africa Halal Week is being hosted in Cape Town with the hopes of unveiling the growing potential of the Halal market.
After a successful launch last year; the City of Cape Town, WESGRO and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism have once again jointly embarked on another business to business venture.
The 3-day event takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre between the 7-9 October 2019. It brought potential investors from at least 23 countries, such as Mozambique, United States of America, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, India the United Kingdom, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana.
A special focus has been placed on Halal trade in the Western Cape after the province was identified as the most promising economic booster to the country. This is evident through statistics released in a statement by the Western Cape government.
According to the spokesperson for the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Francine Higham, which pointed to a growth of 21% in the halal trade in the Western Cape has the last four years. The sum of halal relevant exports to all consumers increased from R43.7 billion in 2015 to R52.9 billion in 2018.
“An estimated R200 million in trade declarations was secured as a direct result of Africa Halal Week 2018, so I’d like to encourage interested exhibitors and buyers to register for this year’s conference,” added Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier
Halal exports in the last financial year are also estimated to have contributed to almost 8 per cent of Western Cape total exports, while the top export markets being the UAE, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and Turkey- whose figures had doubled.
With the Halal Market growing rapidly as it has, this year’s showcased products and services covered a range of sectors including tourism, Islamic banking, modest fashion, film and media promotion, cuisine and investment and trade opportunities in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the Muslim World.
Certified halal products on display varied from cosmetics, modest fashion, pharmaceuticals, to an array of edibles such as spices and sauces, cheeses, jams, different sweets like sugar free chocolates and toffees, as well as the conventional halal meats- each with a unique twist. There are also various services on offer such as shariah compliant banking, sourcing, exporting and digital marketing, manufacturing and distribution companies.
The global Muslim population has exceeded 1.8 billion and is reportedly growing at twice the rate of the non-Muslim world. Its products and services have been consistent has continued to attract significant and rising attention.
The Deputy Director General of Economic operations for the Western Cape government, Rashid Toefy, said that the event is a “business to business venture” to increase trade relations.
“It’s a trade fare where you are matching South African companies that are export-ready with international buyers. Its creating that market place to create jobs ultimately, but also to get trade going between us and countries that have muslim consumers.”
“It’s a huge opportunity for South African businesses, large and small, to access good they wouldn’t otherwise be able to because they buyers are here from 25 different countries in the Middle East, even Europe and America. They’re here looking for products and its either in food, agriculture, fashion even in Islamic finance.”
Marketing manager for promotions in Turkey for South African Toursim, Sidiq Dangar, pointed to how beneficial it would be for global business leaders to learn from each other on how to cater to the muslim traveller.
“It’s my first time at Africa Halal Week and it’s great to see the different segments here. Obviously, my focus is particularly on tourism, but I’ve met so many buyers that are being hosted and I’m getting some good insights. They can help us because these other people ultimately sell our destination when we are waiting for the travelers to come to our country. The more insights we can get from (other countries), the more we will share these insights and the more we will work with private sector to ensure that we have the right product to continuously serve the needs of the Muslim traveller and many other travellers that come into our country.”
“We Muslims come from many diverse cultures, diverse backgrounds. We have Muslims from many different parts of the world. And everyone has a different, unique understanding of why they travel.We always talk about our tourism partners. Whether they’re Muslim or non-Muslim -understand the traveler so you can package accordingly. We can’t just go out there and say we want to do large travel, but then we don’t understand who the traveler is and what the traveler needs are every need and every day there’s different aspects that they look for. Are they coming to the country, particularly for coming to see tourist attractions? Some are coming to engage with Muslims and some want to see all other Muslims of other parts of the world live.”
Dangar elaborated on the easy ways to adapt to a “halal” space.
“Looking at the different opportunities that arise from Muslim traveller and “Halal”, I think you can give the holistic approach. Most people when they think Halal, they think food. (Also) give them everything related to the product. So in other words, it’s making sure that you know there are times set aside for people to have the Salah done. They are ensuring that the food, of course, most importantly, is halal. But there are also elements around integrating what the religious aspect is like in Cape Town. We have sold Islam that dates back to so many hundred years back, the history of the Cape Western Cape, the history of what we as Muslims have contributed both to the country, what and what Muslims have contributed globally.”
Dangor stressed that it is important to identify and cater to the muslim traveller’s needs.
“When you look at the Muslim and Muslim traveller, it’s so unique because we Muslims come from many diverse cultures, diverse backgrounds. We have Muslims from many different parts of the world. And everyone has a different, unique understanding of why they travel. Are they coming to the country, particularly for coming to see tourist attractions? Some are coming to engage with Muslims and some want to see all other Muslims of other parts of the world live.”
“We always talk about our tourism partners. Whether they’re Muslim or non-Muslim -understand the traveller so you can package accordingly. We can’t just go out there and say we want to do large travel, but then we don’t understand who the traveller is and what the travellers needs are every need and every day there’s different aspects that they look for. ”
“And sometimes you don’t just have one product that you just put up on the shelf and everyone expects to buy it. And that’s what you’re selling. Understand the needs of the traveller. That is the most important thing. Why do they want to travel? What make them chose to South Africa? Yes, we know what you’re offering. But what else is it about the country they want to come and see? So, they want to meet with Muslims, that they want to see the country, that they want to see the beauty of the country. How friendly are we to the Muslims that are coming to come in, travel in in our country? At the moment we as ourselves are warm and friendly.
“Some Muslim travellers are looking for (something), but others also are just looking to experience what each country has to offer, like Cape Town has the many different beautiful offerings and so does the rest of the country. It is also about focusing on the unique, beautiful natural attractions of what the country has to offer.”
He further requested that the different sectors should work together.
“I encourage the private sector to work closely, ensure that you’ve got the right message and you’ve got the message that is uniform so that when you partner with us and you come along with us on our platforms. So let’s not close ourselves and say we’re only going to focus on one segment of the market. It’s that he’s going to be the key segment that’s going to come in, but open ourselves up later, show what we have, because that’s how we live in South Africa and that’s how fortunate we are.”
Dangar further expressed gratitude, having noted that the Mother City is a perfect location for an economic opportunity such as Africa Halal Week.
“Thank you to the people of Cape Town, particularly Wesgro, for hosting the Africa Halal Week. It’s opportunities and conferences like this that gives the message of Islam, gives the message of us what we have as an offering. And I think we as South Africans, are perfectly positioned to showcase the beauty of our country, but more importantly, using tourism as an opportunity to market ourselves to the many, many Muslim travellers who see South Africa as one of the key destinations that they would like to travel to.”