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President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised the significance of expanding trade and investment between South Africa and Ghana, highlighting the need to explore avenues for enhancing cooperation beyond the existing areas covered by the Bi-National Commission (BNC).

He was delivering opening remarks at the second session of the South Africa-Ghana BNC held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation's OR Tambo Building in Pretoria on Tuesday, 12 March 2024.

“In addition to the many areas of cooperation that the BNC covers, it is important that we explore how best both countries can increase trade and investment among ourselves.

“The purpose of the Business Forum that will take place on the margins of this BNC is to expand trade and investment between our two countries.

“Ghana is host to several South African companies. Our companies are keen to expand their investments in Ghana and look to us to work together to improve the business environment. We invite investors from Ghana to look at opportunities in our country,” the President said.

The President further emphasised that collaboration between the two countries' private sectors and state-owned entities is particularly important.

He told his Ghanaian counterpart, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, that bidding for procurement contracts in each other’s countries, instead of sourcing from outside the continent, would be desirable and commercially viable.

The President highlighted that South African companies, including several in the banking sector, have expressed interest in exploring opportunities in line with Ghana’s investment plans.

“There is also scope for collaboration in infrastructure between our two economies, particularly in the building of dry ports, railway networks, airports and hospital facilities. There are also opportunities to be explored in the pre-chemicals sector.

“As we are both coastal countries, maritime shipping and the related economy holds potential for us and opportunities should be explored further in this regard. We need to work together to reverse the decline in trade between our countries over the past four years,” he said.

President Ramaphosa highlighted that the introduction of preferential trading within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a significant development, poised to substantially reshape trade dynamics across the continent.

“On the 31st of January 2024, South Africa sent its first shipment to Ghana and other countries under the AfCFTA Agreement. This is an important first step.

“For many African countries, the start of preferential trade will create great opportunities for growth and development,” he said.

Agreements between South Africa and Ghana

The BNC between South Africa and Ghana was inaugurated when President Nana Akufo-Addo hosted President Ramaphosa in Accra in 2020.

There are 24 agreements and memoranda of understanding between South Africa and Ghana covering various areas of economic, technical, scientific, social and cultural cooperation.

President Ramaphosa emphasised that they must accelerate the implementation of these agreements and finalise discussions on additional agreements.

He pointed out that one of the recent highlights in bilateral relations was the signing of the reciprocal visa exemption for ordinary passport holders for a period of 90 days per annum, which entered into force on the 1 November 2023.

“This has resulted in a considerable increase in travellers between our two countries, contributing not only to tourism but also towards enhancing business-to-business links, educational and scientific exchanges, and people-to-people ties,” he said

Peace and security

As the two heads of state meet at a time when the state of peace and security is fragile across the globe, President Ramaphosa emphasised that they redouble their efforts to “Silence the Guns in Africa”.

He said they would need to capacitate the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities to do more in pursuit of peace and stability.

“Internal strife, conflicts and wars, compounded by terrorism and violent extremism, are a major obstacle to peace, security and stability. They threaten to constrain our developmental efforts and our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The situations in Sudan, Somalia, Libya and the Sahel, among others, are of grave concern, as are the armed hostilities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the extremist insurrection in northern Mozambique,” he said.

Elections in Africa

President Ramaphosa further highlighted that this will be an important year for democracy in Africa, with 19 African countries – including South Africa and Ghana – holding presidential or national elections in 2024.

He emphasised that these elections are important for the quality of governance and the strength of democracy on the continent.

“We must, however, be concerned that in several parts of the continent, unconstitutional changes of government, particularly through military coups, are on the rise.

“Global developments, such as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, continue to threaten food and energy security in Africa,” he said.

The President said African nations, with their own bitter experiences of colonial occupation, are extremely concerned by the terrible events in Palestine and the suffering unleashed on the people of Gaza.

“On our own continent, the matter of Western Sahara remains unresolved. As we pursue our own developmental goals, we stand in solidarity with all who continue to suffer the effects of occupation and dispossession,” he said.

– Source:

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his well wishes to South African Muslims on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.
The month of prayer, fasting, reflection and community work is expected to end on 9 April 2024.

“Ramadan is a special period of spiritual devotion, physical sacrifice and charitable outreach for Muslims. But it is also an expression of faith that is embraced with tolerance and Ubuntu by all communities of faith.

“In our 30th year of freedom, the advent of Ramadan gives us an appreciation of the freedom of religion, belief and opinion enshrined in our Constitution and the richness of our nation’s diversity,” the President said.

He added that the month also “connects the local Muslim community more closely with their brethren around the world at this time” and paid homage to those Muslims going into the month under challenging conditions.
We remember that for millions of people, Ramadan is being observed under conditions of conflict, war, displacement and oppression. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the peoples of Palestine, Yemen, Sudan, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara, Mali and others for whom this holy month is a time of great hardship and suffering.

“May the message of Ramadan, of peace, tolerance and unity serve as an impetus for us as the international fellowship of nations to do all within our means to protect the most vulnerable and put an end to conflicts and wars everywhere,” President Ramaphosa said.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the people of Gaza are facing unfathomable human suffering as the conflict between Israel and Palestine continues.
This after South Africa’s latest approach to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) applying for the provisional measures set out for Israel in January to be strengthened in order to “prevent a catastrophic famine in the Gaza Strip.”

That application was filed last week.

The President was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the District Development Model Presidential Imbizo held at Emalahleni in Mpumalanga on Thursday, 7 March 2024.
“We’re approaching the court once again because Israel has not been complying with the order that was issued by the court. So, we have seen it fit to approach the court on an urgent basis particularly with the view of addressing the challenges in the Rafah area, where a few days ago 100 people were massacred.

“We want the court to take another decision on…how it addresses that and forestalls the occurrence of any other occurrence,” he said.

He added that the Palestinian people need the world to act now as starvation begins to set in.

“One other concerning thing is…[the] starvation which many organisations have been warning about has now arrived. People in Gaza are now starving.

“There is no food, there are no usual facilities like water and people are dying, especially young children are dying as a result of having no food. People have no food in their homes - that is why, as delivery vans or trucks come, there’s scurrying for food.

“So, our action is aimed at also addressing that. The people of Palestine are really suffering, and the suffering is beyond human contemplation or understanding.

“The world has to do something; hence we’ve called for an immediate ceasefire and a humanitarian one at that so that food and other supplies can come in. South Africa is determined to continue supporting the people of Palestine,” said the President.

– Source:
Deputy President Paul Mashatile has called for the elimination of red tape to facilitate cross-border trade for African entrepreneurs.
“Countries on our continent typically perform poorly in various categories related to corporate performance and competitiveness due to an unfriendly environment, particularly in terms of intra-continental trade,” the Deputy President said on Wednesday,13 March 2024.

This is the reason he believes that countries should take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which seeks to eliminate barriers to trade in Africa.

“The AfCFTA will significantly boost intra-African trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy,” Deputy President Mashatile said.
The Deputy President was delivering a keynote address at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC+ Africa) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

GEC+ Africa is a gathering of entrepreneurs and leaders from more than 50 African nations committed to advancing entrepreneurial activity throughout their own countries in Africa.

Hosted by the Department of Small Business Development, the two-day event includes other international leaders who have become a part of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) movement that advances entrepreneurship as a means of building economies and expanding human welfare.

“As policymakers, we have to create an enabling environment for our entrepreneurs,” Deputy President Mashatile said.

He told delegates that leaders should ensure that the core foundations of the digital economy were in place, including digital infrastructure, digital skills, cybersecurity capabilities and affordable and accessible data.

He said nations need to do more to implement the African Union’s Digital Transformation Agenda, adopted at its Summit of Heads of State in 2019.

“We must ensure that by 2030, every individual, business and government on the continent will be digitally enabled and ready to support a growing digital economy.”

He emphasised the need to enhance governance systems, such as combating corruption, improving macroeconomic management, and resolving disputes through negotiation rather than violent conflict.

“We must do more to shift the narrative that Africa is a difficult place to do business.”


The Deputy President said it was crucial to address the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) and start-up credit gap.

“Africa has 18% of the world’s population but attracts only 2% of global capital and even less global venture capital for start-ups.

“In South Africa, the Minister of Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has proposed a SMME and Cooperative Funding Policy, which was recently gazetted for public comment,” he announced.

The policy requires that the business development service providers in South Africa institutionalise the practice of assisting SMMEs and cooperatives with pre-funding support.

“Without funding, our best start-ups are leaving for tech hubs abroad,” Deputy President Mashatile said.

Skilled labour force

The Deputy President believes it is crucial to retain skilled professionals within the continent’s borders.

“The loss of skilled professionals, also known as “brain-drain” is one of the major reasons for the unsteady growth in our respective countries.

“To prevent this, we need to make it easier for skills to move across the continent and increase the number of people who can learn new skills, especially in areas that are important to the digital economy.”

However, he said South Africa was making inroads in reforming visa requirements, which allows high-tech experts to work in the country and develop the economy.

“This move is supported by the underpinning principles of the AfCFTA and propels us towards the integrated Africa that we want.”

In addition, the Deputy President called on the continent to work together to achieve socio-economic transformation that benefits everyone and one way to start is by assisting small businesses.

“Together, this and the AfCFTA are important steps towards the Africa we want. I am confident that this inaugural GEC+ Africa Congress will provide the appropriate policy advice and partnerships to take us there.”


The Deputy President has described Africa as a continent overflowing with untapped potential, a hub of innovation and invention waiting to be re-awakened.

“However, Africa still plays a subordinate role in global value chains and is confronted by deeply established structural constraints that stem from our previous position as an exporter of unprocessed raw commodities.”

South Africa, like the rest of the continent, according to the Deputy President, needs to be strategic in increasing its competitiveness in higher-productivity trade-able commodities and services, as well as in becoming ready for a digital and environmentally friendly future.

“We must recognise that there is a link between the environment, economy and agriculture. All economic activities either affect or are affected by natural and environmental resources.”

He also called on farmers to adapt to current farming methods that increase production efficiency.

“African innovators and entrepreneurs have the power to transform our economy, which will eventually allow us to participate in the global economy as players with equal status.”

– Source:
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, co-chaired the Ministerial Segment of the South Africa-Ghana Bi-National Commission (BNC) with her counterpart, Shirley Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana on Monday, 11 March 2024.
The BNC provided an opportunity to strengthen and consolidate cooperation between the two countries and to exchange views on the latest developments in their regions, particularly in the areas of peace, security and economic development. Furthermore, the BNC followed up on progress made in the implementation of the decisions taken during the inaugural session held in December 2021.

South Africa and Ghana share historical relations dating back to the days of the fights against colonialism and apartheid. Bilateral relations between the two countries have since grown exponentially. South Africa is one of the significant foreign direct investors in Ghana. There are over 100 South African companies registered in Ghana such as MTN, AngloGold Ashanti, Shoprite, Goldfields, Standard Bank, First National Bank, Barclays/Absa, MultiChoice and South African Airways. These companies are employing more than 1 900 Ghanaians and 510 expatriates.

Over the past 10 years, South African companies have undertaken over 170 projects in Ghana, valued at approximately US$1,4 billion in capital investment. South African companies are actively involved in the Ghanaian mining industry.

– Source:
The Gertrude Shope Women’s Mediation Network (GSWMN) was successfully launched, by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor on 8 March 2024, as part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day. The Launch was lauded by the ministers present, the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disability, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise. The occasion was also heralded by the diplomatic corps, members of civil society organisation and other interested individuals.
The GSWMN is the culmination of the work done by government and many other stakeholders, including civil society organisations, community leaders and the many local institutions in women’s development, peacemaking and empowerment.

The network finds its roots in the Gertrude Shope Annual Dialogue Forum, an invaluable platform for women peacemakers and builders to gather and share their experiences, their knowledge, and their best practices.

The GSWMN will recognise the untapped potential, talent and unique approach that women bring to the table and will promote gender equality and women empowerment as key agents of peace and stability.

The GSWMN is envisioned for women to reflect on their work, realise best practices and critique existing policies and procedures. It will further address challenges and make practical recommendations to national, regional and international institutions of governance.

The launch of the GSWMN will further advance South Africa’s work within the Women Peace and Security Agenda and cement women’s place in all peacemaking activities.

– Source: Directorate: Mediation Support Unit, Branch: Diplomatic Training, Research and Development.
On 11 March 2024, member countries of the Commonwealth commemorated Commonwealth Day, which is the annual celebration observed by people all over the Commonwealth in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, as well as the Pacific and Europe.
The Commonwealth theme for 2024 is, One Resilient Common Future.

Each year, the Commonwealth and its members celebrate Commonwealth Day to renew their bond with the organisation, strengthen their commitment to the Commonwealth values and re-energise the union of its member states. During 2024, the Commonwealth will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of the signing of the London Declaration, which heralded the birth of a modern Commonwealth.
The theme also reflects the focus of this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that will take place in Apia, Samoa on 24 and 25 October 2024. CHOGM 2024 will be preceded by a pre-CHOGM Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting. Samoa will be the first Small Island Developing State from the Blue Pacific to host CHOGM.

CHOGM 2024 will focus on the core pillars of the Commonwealth through a resilience lens. It aims to strengthen:
  • resilient democratic institutions upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law
  • a resilient environment to combat climate change
  • resilient economies that support recovery and prosperity
  • resilient societies to empower individuals for a peaceful and productive life.
On 25 October 2024, heads of state will also elect the next CHOGM Secretary-General “in accordance with usual practice and the principle of regional rotation.” The understanding is that the next Secretary-General will be from Africa as the continent has not had a Secretary-General in over two decades since Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria left office in 2000. The successful candidate will serve as the seventh Commonwealth Secretary-General.

South Africa attaches great importance to the role that the Commonwealth Secretary-General should play in improving the image and credibility of the Commonwealth and to promote and protect the Commonwealth’s values and principles, as set out in the Commonwealth Charter. The Secretary-General should also prioritise the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat and play a role in ensuring ownership of the Commonwealth and directing its activities to truly serve all the member states in achieving their development aspirations.

As a member of the organisation since 1994, South Africa believes that the Commonwealth continues to play an important role in a world where there is increasing pushback against the forces promoting collective action and international solidarity and cooperation. The organisation, which represents countries from across the development spectrum, should use its unique position of comprising members from all parts of the world derived from both developing and developed countries, to continue calling for the strengthening of existing multilateral mechanisms and institutions and transform them to suit current global realities. The Commonwealth provides an opportunity to address issues of common interest, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the reform of institutions of global governance, in particular the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the United Nations.

The Commonwealth must remain at the forefront of the struggle for the advancement and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, gender equality and women empowerment.

The 56 members of the Commonwealth will be able to assist each other, only through increased solidarity, to address the challenges we are collectively currently facing. This will ensure that the Commonwealth continues to remain relevant and grow.

On Commonwealth Day, South Africa once again renewed its pledge to uphold and serve the values and fellowship of the Commonwealth.

– Source:
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel and a high-level delegation have completed a four-day working visit to Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing to meet with government officials, investors and a number of Chinese electric vehicles and battery manufacturers.
Minister Patel was hosted by his Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, the Chinese Minister of Commerce, at a bilateral meeting and working dinner during the visit.
The discussion reviewed trade relations and considered steps taken to implement agreements signed during President Xi Jinping’s State Visit in August 2023. New opportunities were also identified to strengthen economic ties. The leaders also discussed a possible Memorandum of Understanding on the automotive industry.

During his visit, Minister Patel held bilateral meetings with eight Chinese companies, met six South African companies operating in China and undertook two factory site visits.

The South African delegation met with six potential Chinese investors in the electric vehicle value chain. Four are vehicle manufacturers, namely the Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation, BYD Auto Manufacturers (the world’s largest electric vehicle producer), Foton Group and Beijing Automotive Industrial Group.

The meetings were held with two battery producers: CATL - the world’s largest battery producer, and Gotion Hi-Tech International, who has a partnership with Volkswagen.

“The investors we met were very interested in the market, particularly with commencement of trade by South Africa under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (the AfCFTA).

“I found them knowledgeable about local market conditions and keen to explore investment partnerships. This builds on positive sentiment we found in September last year in New York among American investors too,” Minister Patel said.

China is the world’s leading producer of electric vehicles (EV) and batteries. The visit provided Minister Patel with an opportunity to present the South African automotive value proposition and government policy support to companies looking to invest in the South African automotive industry, particularly in EV manufacturing.

The South African automotive industry is supported by stable long-term policies, such as the South African Automotive Master Plan 2035 and a government support package for capital investment, and vehicle and component production.

The South African Government released the Electric Vehicle White Paper in December last year. The paper outlines the country’s approach to supporting the transition to zero-emission vehicle production for the export and domestic market.

As part of the support for the transition, government has improved the automotive industry incentive package for EV production in South Africa. This includes increased investment support through a recently announced tax measure.

The support from government ensures South Africa can compete in attracting vital investment into the industry that will facilitate the transition of this well-established sector to new energy vehicles. Access to export markets makes South Africa a more attractive investment destination.

Minister Patel also met investors in the steel and energy sectors and discussed their plans for the South African market.

The Minister was accompanied by senior officials from the Industrial Development Corporation and the dtic.

China is currently South Africa’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade estimated at US$34 billion (R556 billion) in 2022.

– Source:
The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, is leading the South African delegation at the 68th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) taking place from 11 to 22 March 2024 at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York.
The 2024 UN CSW68 takes place under the priority theme: Accelerating the Achievement of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of All Women and Girls by Addressing Poverty and Strengthening Institutions and Financing with a Gender Perspective.

As the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, the CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. During the Commission, South Africa will demonstrate its commitment to addressing poverty, inequality, unemployment and social exclusion based on gender, race, disability or geolocation, using the country’s constitution as the cornerstone for human rights and equality which are clearly articulated in the legislative framework.

Reducing poverty and inequality has been an overriding concern of South Africa’s development since the advent of democracy in 1994 as articulated in the Reconstruction and Development Programme to now the National Development Plan Vision 2030. South Africa remains committed to addressing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening our institutions so that all women and girls are empowered and can enjoy their human rights as stipulated in the country’s constitution, which is the Bill of Rights.

The country is also committed to financing women’s and girls’ empowerment and achieving gender equality. Minister Zulu will be addressing the Commission during the high-level Ministerial Round Table on the theme: Mobilising Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of All Women and Girls: Strategies to End Women’s and Girls’ Poverty and on 12 March 2024 the Minister gave the South African National Statement to the Commission.

– Source:
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), will host the second Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference at the Sandton International Convention Centre on 20 March 2024.
The event will comprise a day-long conference that will provide a platform for an exchange of ideas, knowledge and information on the achievements of the Black Industrialists Programme since its inception in 2015, as well as challenges and opportunities presented by the programme.

There will also be an exhibition that will showcase proudly South African products manufactured by black industrialists and an awards ceremony that will recognise and reward black industrialists that have contributed significantly to the country’s industrialisation, job creation, poverty alleviation, innovation and transformation efforts.

More than 1 300 delegates, including 800 black firms, 73 panellists and speakers, 139 exhibitors, nine buyers from the country’s biggest retailers, and seven ministers participated in the inaugural event that took place in Sandton in July 2022.

The objective of the Black Industrialists Programme is to increase the participation of black South Africans in the ownership and control of productive enterprises in key sectors and value chains of the country’s economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa graced the inaugural event that took place in Sandton in 2022 with his presence. He officially opened the conference and later handed certificates to 10 deserving and distinguished black industrialists who romped home with awards in various categories. In his keynote address, President Ramaphosa described the conference as “an opportunity to reflect on progress in advancing redress and equity in the South African economy.”

– Source:
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Ministerial Regulations on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) recognises that SEZs are an important tool for development and allows products that are produced in SEZs to be treated as originating goods provided that they meet the agreed rules of origin. Therefore products produced in South Africa’s SEZs will benefit from the AfCFTA preferential tariff rates. This was said by the Chief Director of Africa Multilateral Economic Relations at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Mr Sandile Tyini.
Tyini was speaking during a workshop on the implementation and benefits of the AfCFTA that was hosted by the dtic in collaboration with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in Sandton.

“The agreement offers legal certainty and predictability of market access and will enhance investor climate in Africa as well as offer new market access opportunities. It will also enhance intra-African trade through progressive elimination of tariffs, rules to manage non-tariff barriers, facilitate cooperation on customs, trade facilitation and transit. The AfCFTA will also provide enhanced cooperation on technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures,” said Tyini.

According to Tyini, the successful implementation of AfCFTA is expected to lead to diversification of exports, increased productive capacity, acceleration of growth, increased investment, increased employment opportunities and incomes, as well as broadening economic inclusion.
Speaking at the same event, the Chief Director of SEZs at the dtic, Mr Riaan le Roux described the first South African shipment of goods by Grinding Media South Africa and DEFY to Ghana and Kenya, respectively, as a celebratory point of departure. Additionally, he said that SEZs were key to beneficiation and noted that the country needed to continue breaking the cycle of exporting raw material.

The workshop aimed to provide an overview of the AfCFTA and the status of the negotiations and implementation of the agreement, communicate the benefits and export opportunities offered under the AfCFTA to the SEZ managers, investors and tenants. It was also intended to share information on incentives, customs requirements, quality standards and export finance insurance solutions.

The South African Revenue Service presented some technical details on how it supports and facilitates exports from South Africa under the AfCFTA, while Brand SA, Proudly South African and Export Credit Insurance Corporation presented on how to market South African products and brands, increase local production, and facilitate finance insurance for South African exports and cross-border investment.

The SEZ Programme has over 10 years since its inception, offered a conducive environment for businesses to enhance their operations. The South African government uses the SEZs as a way to attract investments in sectors with no obvious comparative advantage, or as a way of increasing production and exports of value-added manufactured products.

– Source:
Four African banks, namely, Equity Bank (92.46), First National Bank (92.29) and Kenya Commercial Bank (91.47) have secured positions among the top five strongest banks, according to Brand Finance's most valuable brand list. Capitec, with a score of 89.08, has claimed the seventh spot on the prestigious list.
The combined value of the world’s top 500 most valuable banking brands has reached a record level of US$1.44tn, almost double what it was a decade ago, according to a new report from Brand Finance, a world leading brand valuation consultancy.

China dominates

The Chinese banking sector demonstrates a notable recovery, with the big four banks remaining well ahead of their United States (US) counterparts. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China maintains its position as the world's most valuable banking brand for the eighth consecutive year, boasting a 3% rise in brand value to US$71.8bn.

China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, and Bank of China secure second, third and fourth positions respectively, following single-digit percentage increases in each of their brand values.

Despite experiencing a minor decline (4%) in brand value, Bank of America retains the title as the leading US banking brand for the fourth consecutive year, and is ranked fifth position overall, boasting a value of US$37.3bn. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo, positioned sixth overall, is narrowing the margin with its American competitor, marking a 9% increase to achieve a brand value of US$35.8bn.

David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance commented: "As the world’s top banking brands reach new heights, China's mega-banks continue to dominate at the top of the brand value ranking. Another key insight from our 2024 data is that local banks increasingly outshine their larger counterparts in brand strength. Dominant brands thrive in singular markets with limited competition, while banks expanding into multiple markets may successfully augment their brand value but risk diluting brand strength."


Brand Finance’s research indicates that local and regional banks are performing as well as – and, in many cases, outperforming – global banks in terms of positioning their brand in the hearts and minds of customers. Indonesia’s BCA is the world’s strongest banking brand with a Brand Strength Index score of 93.8/100 and elite AAA+ rating.

Jeremy Sampson, Chairman of Brand Finance Africa added: “These rankings are based on global best practice, are ISO compliant and show the strength of local African brands from South Africa and Kenya. FNB and Capitec continue to dominate from a South African perspective and are to be heartily congratulated. Nigerian banks have suffered as a result of the slippage in the value of the Naira against other currencies. Access Bank had the added sad loss of their highly respected CEO in a plane crash in the US.”

– Source:
Celebrating its landmark 10th anniversary, Africa Travel Week is set to dazzle the City of Cape Town from 7 to 12 April 2024 with a dynamic programme for World Travel Market (WTM) Africa. With a vibrant lineup of events and partnerships, this year promises to be a pivotal moment for the travel industry.
Megan De Jager, Portfolio Director of Travel and Tourism at RX Africa, expresses enthusiasm for the event, citing the growth and optimism saturating the tourism landscape in 2024. Over the past decade, WTM Africa has seen remarkable growth, with 34 731 industry professionals attending between 2014 and 2023. Exhibitor numbers surged in 2023 to 577 and organisers aim to surpass this figure in 2024.

The 2024 edition offers a diverse range of activities, including festival-style celebrations, interactive workshops and the Sustainability Village showcasing responsible tourism initiatives. Notable highlights include the introduction of Brain Box, a platform for industry discourse and a new partnership with Tourism Investment Forum Africa, promoting African destinations as investment hotspots.
Esteemed speakers such as Harold Goodwin and Mandisa Magwaxaza will grace the event, underscoring its significance in the global tourism arena. The event’s collaborative spirit is evident through partnerships with entities like IBTM World and official sponsors such as Recycled Flip Flop Sculptures Studio and Southern Sun. As De Jager emphasises, the mission of Africa Travel Week is to deliver an exceptional experience and tangible business opportunities, ensuring a lasting return on investment for participants.

As Cape Town prepares to host this prestigious event, excitement is palpable within the travel industry. Africa Travel Week’s 10th anniversary promises to be a defining moment, showcasing the continent’s immense potential and shaping the future of tourism in Africa and beyond

– Source:
South Africa’s flora is poised to reclaim its spotlight at the esteemed RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London following a four-year hiatus.
Opening its doors to the public on 21 May 2024, this exhibit continues South Africa’s storied presence at the renowned flower show, boasting a legacy dating back to 1976 and an impressive tally of 37 gold medals earned over 43 years.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, formally known as the Great Spring Show, is a garden show held for five days in May by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London. Held at Chelsea since 1912, the show is attended by members of the British royal family.

Directed by international floral artist Leon Kluge, who clinched the last two gold medals for South Africa, this year’s exhibit draws inspiration from the windswept slopes of the Cape mountains. It will showcase an abundance of Proteas and fynbos cut flowers set amongst a contemporary take of the Cape Fold mountains. As if carved by nature, large panels weave through the landscape, creating an earthy backdrop for our vibrant flora to take centre stage. These sculptures take on the role of mountain ranges, dividing and isolating the different biomes of the Cape which have given rise to our unique flora over time. Its weathered surface becomes a canvas on which South Africa’s rich cultural heritage can be recorded through mark-making. The negative spaces in the sheets of rock act as windows, creating new vistas to explore. A multitude of species transition from the high-altitude fynbos to the strandveld brimming with bulbs and geophytes that hug the coastlines. It celebrates the beauty and significance of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

Cape Flora SA, a non-profit established in 2005, offers their support this year and remains steadfast in its commitment to the sustainable harvesting and growth of the fynbos industry. The burgeoning demand for high-quality fynbos products in international markets is welcomed, providing livelihoods for stakeholders and communities within the South African fynbos industry.

– Source:
There is an abundance of new murals to fall in love with all around Cape Town thanks to the recent International Public Art Festival where artists from near and far armed themselves with cans of paint and big visions.
The 2024 International Public Art Festival recently brought a series of art-appreciating events to Cape Town for people of all ages, leaving behind a legacy of new murals, as the festival has done for almost a decade.

For the hosts of the largest street art festival in Africa (NGO BAZ-ART), the 2024 theme CoAct | CoLLab brought about a sense of endless opportunities, something that inspired both the artists while they created their new murals and those who look up to their messages of connection, community and action. Last year’s theme, Humanity sparked a serious case of awe for all who got to see the works and this year has followed in 2023’s footsteps with pride.

An international affair, artists came from near and far to put their cans of paint to work, lending their talents to further solidify Cape Town’s reputation as a cultural gem and massive street gallery in its own right.
From De Waterkant to Gardens, the city has an abundance of new murals to be mesmerised by, adding to the beauty of Cape Town and serving as reminders of all the beauty that is possible when we work together and care for spaces.

– Source:
Two rescued lions from war-torn Ukraine have found sanctuary and freedom in Eastern Cape’s Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary.
Two lions have found solace and sanctuary in the lush landscapes of the Eastern Cape, thousands of kilometres away from the turmoil of their past in war-torn Ukraine.

Tsar and Jamil, once subjected to the harsh realities of captivity and exploitation, have embarked on a journey of healing and hope that culminated in their arrival at Born Free’s Big Cat Sanctuary at Shamwari Private Game Reserve.

Born into captivity within the confines of a Ukrainian zoo, the two lions were robbed of their innocence at a tender age, torn from their mother’s side and thrust into a world of exploitation. Enduring inadequate conditions and a substandard diet, the young lions faced malnourishment and illness, their spirits dimmed by the cruelty of their circumstances.

However, their plight did not go unnoticed, as local animal protection organisations rallied to secure their rescue and release.

Guided by the compassionate hands of Born Free’s expert animal care team, the lions travelled thousands of kilometres over continents, their spirits undeterred.

“That epic re-homing journey began on Friday night, 8 March 2024 when the brothers were gently loaded into their custom-made travel crates. The lions first travelled by road to Luxembourg airport, before departing for Johannesburg on a specialist flight, sponsored by Born Free’s air transport partner Cargolux. After 10 hours in the air, the lions touched down in South Africa. After being met and checked over by Born Free’s vet, Tsar and Jamil’s overland road trip to South Africa’s Eastern Cape began,” the sanctuary said.

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South Africa’s swimming squad has continued the country’s winning streak in international and continental competitions after adding 10 more medals to the country’s belt at the African Games taking place in Ghana.
When the games kicked off on Saturday, 9 March 2024, the South African team earned a total of seven medals – four gold, two silver and one bronze.

Swimmers Simone Moll and Georgia Els ensured that the country’s proud record in international breaststroke events was extended, taking the top two spots in the 100m breaststroke podium, as Moll took the gold in a time of 1:09.50 seconds, with Els clinching the silver in 1:09.91.
Team SA once again topped the podium in the mixed 4x100m medley relay, thanks to the efforts of Tayla Jonker, Petrus Truter, Jarden Eaton and Caitlin de Lange.

The group joined forces and led throughout to claim gold in a time of 3:57.56, ahead of Egypt’s 4:03.26 and the Algerian team’s 4:03.34.

Meanwhile, Hannah Mouton secured silver in the 200m freestyle, with Catherine van Rensburg adding to her 1 500m freestyle gold from Saturday with a bronze in the 200m event.

De Lange claimed silver in the 50m butterfly to add to her 100m freestyle gold from Saturday after finishing in 26.81 behind world championship medallist Farida Osman of Egypt who came in at 26.02.

In addition, fresh from breaking the South African record in the 50m backstroke at the recent World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Jonker claimed silver in the 200m backstroke in Accra.

The 13th African Games will be held across three cities, namely, Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast, from 8 to 23 March 2024, with over 4 000 athletes competing in 29 sports disciplines.

The theme of the 13th African Games is Experience the African Dream.

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Defending double world champion Francesco Bagnaia cruised to victory in the season-opening Qatar MotoGP on Sunday, 10 March 2024.
The Ducati rider made a storming start from fifth off the grid to hit the front and take total control of the first race in MotoGP's 75th anniversary season.

South Africa’s Brad Binder finished second for KTM with pole-sitter Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac) in third.

South African Binder said he was "super stoked" after also filling second in the sprint.

"We knew it was going to be tough to get to the end. I tried to get so close to “Pecco” (Bagnaia) but he did an unreal job, he didn't make one mistake."

Martin, who had claimed pole after a record lap in qualifying, was more than happy with his weekend's work at the Lusail International Circuit.

"A win yesterday and P3 today, I've taken a lot of points over the weekend, so I'm pleased."

Bagnaia played his ace card at lights out with a super-charged getaway from the second row to sail past the four riders in the blink of an eye.

Binder had the measure of Martin for second, with 19-year-old rookie Pedro Acosta running a superb fifth, harrying the man in front of him – none other than six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez.

MotoGP's next port of call is Portimao for the Portuguese Grand Prix in a fortnight's time with Bagnaia leading the early championship standings on 31 points from Binder with 29 and Martin one point away in third.

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Bafana Bafana will be among the first African teams to benefit from the FIFA Series International Friendlies Pilot Project, which will be rolled out later this month.
The Fédération internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body of football, will facilitate inter-confederation friendlies during the March window. Algeria, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka will host the first pilot project matches.

The initiative aims to provide member associations with playing opportunities.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the objective is to help raise the level of play in countries outside soccer’s power bases of Europe and South America and make World Cups more competitive.

There will also be an effort to accelerate the progress of national teams that rarely play outside their continent. Some will have their travel costs paid for by FIFA.

The pilot project will run from 18 to 26 March 2024 and feature national teams from all six confederations.
“The FIFA series is a really positive step forward for national-team football at the global level,” said Infantino. “Our member associations have been telling us for a long time now of their desire to test themselves against their counterparts from all around the world and now they can do so within the current men’s international match calendar.

“More meaningful matches will enable far more valuable footballing interaction for players, teams and fans, and will make a concrete contribution to the development of the game.”

Bafana is one of three teams that will be hosted by Algeria (CAF) for the FIFA Series. The other teams are Andorra (UEFA) and Bolivia (Conmebol). Bafana will play Andorra on Thursday, 21 March and Algeria on Tuesday, 26 March, at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.

Bafana coach Hugo Broos has named a 32-man preliminary squad for the two matches.

The team will have a camp ahead of the international friendlies and it will be the first time that the Belgian will reunite with his team since clinching a bronze medal at the 2023 Afcon in Ivory Coast.

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