Visit of French Minister of Economy and Finance Michel Sapin to South Africa
2 – 3 February 2017
French Minister of Economy and Finance, Michel Sapin’s visit to strengthen and reaffirm economic relations and partnerships between France and South Africa is seen as opportune. The uncertain political and economic conditions in Europe and the Presidential elections in April 2017 in France are significant issues that were discussed during his meetings with South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
Although accounting for 1% of French foreign investment, there are over 360 French companies and their subsidiaries operating in South Africa. Increasing French investment, which is already comprehensive and diverse, and overcoming impediments were core reasons for the meetings. Research and training are also crucial to growing the small enterprise sector in South Africa.
Local job creation, technology transfer, training and skills development programme form the basis of French-South African economic cooperation. Alstom’s railway centre of excellence (near Dunnottar), the French-South African Schneider Electric Academy and France’s involvement in the civil engineering of the Gautrain railway track and bridges, as well as its daily operation are examples of successful partnerships. French companies employ over 37 000 people directly.
There are currently 20 South African companies in France, employing 15 000 people – the biggest of which are Steinhoff (14 000 employees) and Aspen (1 000 employees).