The Western Cape province, Wesgro international Trade Unit and various stake holders launched the inaugural Africa Halal Week, seeking to foster business linkages that will utilize the R42m Halal industry in the Western Cape, to aid job creation and economic growth in Cape Town, South Africa and the rest of the world.
As Cape Town has recently been announced as one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the world, the event aimed to determine how South Africa-and Cape Town in particular- can combine trade, travel and investment to boost the country’s economy and promote intra-continental collaboration.
The 3-day event, held between 15-18 October 2018, brought together various stakeholders such as the Halal Coordinating committee, Halal certification bodies and export councils among others, to generate connections that will help utilize the Islamic concept of “halal” (permissible) into different sectors such as Tourism, Fashion, Cuisine, Film and media Promotion, Islamic Banking and Investment and Trade.
The first day was hosted at the Westin Hotel, in Cape Town, which briefed attendees and provided an opportunity for networking between key role-players in their respective sectors. Key speakers included: Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille, Western Cape MEC for economic Development, Alan Winde, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, Deputy Director General for Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Rashid Toefy, Member of the Department of Trade and Industry, Solly Molepo and Muslim Judicial Councils Sheikh Achmat Sedick.
Wesgro CEO, Time Harris, highlighted that Cape Town is a perfect fit for improving the economy of South Africa.
“We are looking (to) building the personal relationships, government to government, city to city, so that Cape Town is positioned as a business hub for the continent. The various mandates of Wesgro include tourism, trade and film promotion for the city and province,” said Harris.
Outgoing Western Cape Mayor, Patricia De Lille, said Cape Town is home to a rich Islamic history and that halal tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global travel industry.
“Cape Muslims (make) up about a quarter of the population. We regard Cape Muslims as part and parcel of the rich tapestry that makes up the social fabric of the city. A recent study found that the halal tourism is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry, with visitors expected to spend $220bn over the next 3 years,” said De Lille.
MEC for Economic Development, Alan Winde, echoed De Lille’s stance and highlighted that the halal ecosystem that exists in the Cape makes Africa Halal Week an exciting platform.
‘’We, out of this province, are responsible for 60% of South Africa’s agri-cultural exports. The first new market we (government) looked at was the global Islamic economy and (we) saw that $1.24 trillion a year is spent on halal food and beverages. We’ve got an ecosystem where (there are) a number of existing businesses that are already trading (in this place), so how do we rev that up- how do we open up further opportunity,” said Winde.
Winde added that Cape Town has been recognised as a finance capital.
“(Today) we have the inauguration of what, I predict, is going to become a major platform for Africa. We will look at not only food, but all other opportunities that our entrepreneurs can partner with the rest of the world.’’
Speaking on behalf of the Muslim Judicial Trust, as well as the rest of South Africas halal certification bodies, Sheik Ahmed Sedick, said there is great potential in incorporating ‘halal’ into various sectors and added that the existing economy can thrive through halal development.
“The role we have played is to bring about and to showcase that there is a significant congruence between the halal development and all the socio-economic development that is happening in South Africa, especially in the Western Cape,” said Sedick.
Among the certifications bodies in South Africa to collaborate with government include: the Islamic Council of South Africa, the National Independent Halal Trust, the South African National Halal Authority and Shura Halal.
Member of department of Industry, Solly Molepo, said South African government has identified ‘’halal’’ as a driver for economic growth, having said the industry could contribute to 11 million jobs by 2030.
On the second day, 70 businesses promoted their halal certified products, hoping to obtain international investment that will boost their businesses on a global level.
Businesses from across the Cape showcasing their products to international investors
Individual conferences took place to address how the industry can be applied to boost sectors such as fashion, tourism, Islamic finance, using Cape Town as a film and media destination, as well as Islamic banking, trade and investment.
One of the conferences focused on accessing the African Halal market and its dynamics, as well as looking at successful halal markets such as that of the Middle East and Europe. Panelists included: Category Manager at SPAR (Nigeria), Lola Adekanye, Managing director at Pile Ou Face (Ivory Coast), Marc Aime Olivier Amany and Al Islaami Foods (UAE) Shafeer Yousuf.
Another conference addressed the modest fashion industry in South Africa. It looked into unlocking potential economic growth, as well as the industries’ current success in entering the global fashion sector. Focus was also put on the opportunities and challenges that the industry may face by looking at modest fashion market success stories.
Panels included Amiena Pastor from the Modest fashion and design platform and souncil of modest fashion, Herman Pillay who represented Trade Call Investments Apparel and Franka Soeria who represented Markamarie, and Think Fashion Co.
A third conference addressed halal tourism in the Western Cape, South Africa and Africa. It looked at industry trends and opportunities, as well as how the Muslim travel tourism and Islamic food and culture in the Cape can be used to increase the stay of Muslim travellers and ensure that they will return. It emphasised the significance of the market and added that it can be used to highlight islam via Film and media promotion. A case study by Bo-kaap Youth was also presented by Adnan Oesman and Achmed Siraaj Legget.
A fourth conference aimed to better understand business culture and looked at positioning businesses to access the MENA market. Panelist included: Intishal Al Timimmi from El Gouna Film Festival, Anis Lassoued from Lumieres films and Anwaar Abdulkhair from Epsaudi Monica Rorvik.
One of the most crucial factors to success is having the funding to accomplish the objectives that have been set. The conference had different panels of professionals who unpacked the role of Islamic financial institutions in the growth of the halal industry ecosystem, explored the strategic collaboration between halal trade, investment and spoke about Islamic finance.
CEO of FNB Islamic, Amman Muhamad, said Islamic banking is appealing due to its principles.
“Islamic banking in the halal industry is not a religious push, rather, it’s an alternative to the mainstream. It is underpinned by Islamic principles and I think what excites people of other faiths is that they don’t necessarily need to follow the Islamic faith, yet they have trust in the Islamic principles that will dictate the management of these products and services going forward,’’ said Muhammad.
Panelist also looked at the financial instruments available that enable global halal trade such as Sukuk viabilities and the shift in financialization.
Professor doctor Ashraf Hashim, CEO of Isra Consultancy from Malyasia, highlighted aspects that need to be considered. VOC broadcasted the exhibition and part of the financial conference live on air over the 3 days, between 10h00-12h00 and 14h00-16h00.
The third and final day of the launch gave over 70 Western Cape businesses the opportunity to promote their products to potential international investors.
VOC presenter Aaisha Lattoe, spoke to exhibitors about their products and the significance of Africa Halal Week.
Apart from various edible products, there were also cosmetics, analytical projects and insurances.
Entrepreneurs expressed excitement over the opportunities initiated by Africa Halal Week
Meanwhile, a panel discussion accessing the Asia Halal Market also took place. There are over 600 different halal certification bodies available globally, majority of which stem from Asia Pacific countries. Malaysia Representative, joint managing partner and director of Kazai Innovative Idea Solutions, Nor Zaizalina Yahya, told the audience of an app that allows uses the ability to scan the bar code of products around the world, to see if it certified halal or not.
Yahya describes the success of the halal industry in in Asia and how technology has connected entrepreneurs and consumers globally.
Other speakers included: QSR Brands representative Mohd Roslan bin Mohd, Singaporean regional director of Mohamed Mustafa & Samsuddin, Regena Begam and CEO of ISRA consultancy Dr Ashraf Hashim.
Wesgro Head of international trade and industry, Denan Kuni, said buyers have been impressed by governments strategy that incorporates all sectors in the halal industry and by its collaboration with the halal certification bodies and the Halal Forum which represents the broader Muslim community.
“There are discussions around investment into the Western Cape economy and there are deals that are being negotiated, (which we will) assess to see how much we have secured in export deals. We will also follow up with all exhibitors, as some have requested training. We will be in touch with buyers over the next several months because these deals take some time to be negotiated,” said Kuni.
Kuni added that Wesgro hopes to make this a yearly event in the international Muslim calendar.
“We definitely want to host the event again next year with more companies exhibiting, more buyers and more private sector engagement,” said Kuni.
The launch acted as a catalyst to promoting Cape Town and its potential for growth in different sectors of the economy. This initiative could boost the country’s overall economic development and help combat poverty and increasing unemployment rates, by promoting the vibrant Islamic ecosystem that is present in the city.
VOC Tauhierah Salie