Exclusive interview with Arnaud Zerkovitz, Senior Trade Adviser Infrastructure, Transport, Industries Department, French Trade Commission in South Africa (Ubifrance). Ubifrance is also a platinum sponsor at African Utility Week.
What are you most excited about currently in terms of Ubifrance’s activities?
We are currently very excited about the increasing number of French companies interested in doing business in South Africa. In 2012, we are planning to introduce over 250 new French companies to the South African market, searching for commercial and industrial partners. In 2011, France was the 11th largest supplier and the 8th largest client of SA, and trade relations between our two countries are rapidly strengthening.
What is on the calendar for Ubifrance for 2012?
This year we will organise French pavilions for four major events in SA : AUW, ElectraMining, AfricaHealth and African Aerospace and Defence, and we will have a full range of trade missions and events in many sectors (industrial equipment, consumer goods, services).
How important do you think Ubifrance’s role is in spreading the word about French technology and solutions?
French companies are very innovative. They offer high quality solutions with a very reliable service. But French SMEs need information in order to identify business opportunities, potential partners and to understand the business environment in foreign markets. Ubifrance provides them with this information and helps them meet the right people. Lots of partnerships have been set up through Ubifrance in South Africa. Some French companies have for example invested in facilities in order to manufacture locally.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to the South African/African energy market?
In my opinion, the main challenges today are to increase the generation capacity of the country faster than the demand, to make people aware than electricity is valuable and to effectively spend the budgets that have been allocated to investment in the electricity sector.
What surprises you about this industry?
I have been positively surprised by the quick and efficient reaction of the country following the 2008 outages. The DoE, Eskom and all the stakeholders have immediately focused their attention on solving the electricity crisis. We hear that the situation should be sorted out by the end of next year and this is very good news for SA citizens and industries.
Why do you keep returning to African Utility Week?
2012 will be the fourth time in a row that a French pavilion will be at AUW! This exhibition is a good platform to not only meet decision makers in the electricity sector in SA but lots of visitors are coming from other African countries, including French speaking countries!
What will be the main message that Ubifrance has for the African Utility Week delegate and visitor?
French companies are ready to partner with them and the put French technology at their disposal in win-win long term relationships.
UBIFRANCE contact details:
Senior Trade Adviser
Infrastructure, Transport, Industries Department
French Trade Commission in South Africa
Tel.: +27 11 303 7156
Fax : +27 11 303 7176
Cell : +27 72 402 5837