From the news desk

Technical experts from Germany flown in to assist Eskom, help German businesses in SA

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A team of German technical experts is expected to touch down in South Africa on Thursday to provide essential services to local German businesses and local entities, such as embattled Eskom.

This agreement is the result of close cooperation between International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, supported by the efforts of the South-African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lufthansa and the German Embassy, together with the relevant South African authorities.

Steffen Scholz, spokesperson of the German Embassy in South Africa, said many businesses had come to a halt during the lockdown in South Africa.

“With the easing of the lockdown in certain sectors, companies have resumed their operations, albeit on a reduced level. They are now preparing for a further ramp-up of their operations while tackling critical maintenance or important upgrading projects. Many of these projects require special expert knowledge that is not available on the ground.”

On Thursday morning, a special Lufthansa flight is due to arrive from Frankfurt in Germany at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

On board are engineers, technicians and other experts whose skills are urgently needed to help get the economy going and South African exports rolling again, according to Scholtz.

Scarce skills not available in SA

“They have been invited by German companies in South Africa because their scarce skills are not readily available in South Africa and the essential services they can provide, [such as] to upgrade high-tech production facilities in the Eastern Cape or assist Eskom in maintaining and upgrading their fleet of power plants,” Scholz said.

Before departing to South Africa on the same flight in Frankfurt, German Ambassador Martin Schäfer said: “We are in this together! Only if and when the coronavirus is defeated in the north, south, east and west, will we all be able to return to a new normal that resembles at least somewhat the lives we lived before the global crisis.

“We will get there through sharing know-how and experiences, with cooperation and solidarity.

“The experts of German companies operating in South Africa will hopefully make their valuable contribution to kickstart the South African economy and reignite exports of high-tech products proudly ‘Made in South Africa’.

“We are all extremely grateful for the exemplary, trustful and amicable partnership with the South African government and so many different stakeholders, and in particular, with Ministers Naledi Pandor and [Trade and Industry Minister] Ebrahim Patel and their great teams. It was and it is a strong team effort. And we will make sure we deserve the trust that has been bestowed upon us,” Schäfer said.

Protect jobs, get economy on its feet

Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW South Africa and president of the South African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We would like to thank Maas and Pandor, as well as all the other relevant South African ministers for their cooperation in ensuring this significant outcome. This is a great step forward in advancing large- and medium-scale projects that will have a direct and critical economic impact on the country.

“It is important that the good technical cooperation between South African and German companies continues so that we overcome the coronavirus pandemic and the negative impact on our economy as fast as possible.

“We are confident that this… will help to get the economy back on its feet as fast as possible and [in the] long term, it will protect jobs.”

André Schulz, general manager of sales at the Lufthansa Group for Southern Africa and East Africa, said: “The Lufthansa Group is pleased to be partnering with the German Embassy and the German business community in South Africa on these flights. Now more than ever, it remains essential to reinforce the connection between Germany and South Africa and to demonstrate Lufthansa’s commitment to its customers in the South African market. It gives us pleasure to assist in… bringing international technical experts and engineers from Europe to South Africa.”

Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele told News24 the flight is expected to land at 08:30.

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