Standard Bank Group is set to benefit from more dynamic business interactions between Africa and the world's emerging economic powers, with South Africa's inclusion in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), a further testament to the acceptance of the country's strategic position as gateway to Africa.
Craig Bond, Standard Bank Group's China Chief Executive, reiterated the bank's commitment to China and its strategic partnership with The Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) as a critical element of the group's strategy, when he addressed the business leaders from both the financial services and trade and investment community at the forums around the official BRICS Summit held last week in Sanya, China.
"We will continue building robust banking systems for Chinese clients in Africa and positioning the group to service the growing trade and investment flows between China and emerging markets," said Mr. Bond. "We will continue to connect BRIC and select emerging markets to Africa and to each other, applying our sector expertise, particularly in natural resources, globally," Bond added.
"The BRICS summit has provided us with a great platform for the emerging economic powers to discuss mineral beneficiation, infrastructure development, stimulating foreign investment as a means for supporting employment and job creation.
"By formally engaging one another and understanding differing socio-economic challenges, the need for BRICS partnership and cooperation will become more visible andmanageable. The BRIC countries should also benefit from Africa's growing consumer markets," said Bond.
SouthAfrica is an important resources-rich country with stable and mature miningoperations, claiming 80% of the world's known economically mineable manganese ore reserves and 84% of the global mineable chromite ore reserves.
Mining opportunities are also abundant throughout Africa, driven by the growing demand from emerging markets, mainly the traditional BRIC countries for iron ore, manganese, copper, cobalt and chrome, with new projects in almost all of the major reserves areas.
SouthAfrica, as the sub-Saharan Africa's economic hub, has a sophisticated resources sector and relatively good infrastructure and is an effective gateway to most of Africa's markets. While BRIC countries are targeting Africa's rich mineral and energy resources and deepening consumer markets, the expertise in developing power and infrastructure in developing markets is of key strategic importance to both BRIC and Africa.
According to Standard Bank's estimates, Africa has a new annual infrastructure requirement of US$40 billion, as it faces real needs to connect inland production facilities to ports, via road and rail linkages to unlock its huge resources base. In South Africa, the government has committed to long-term renewal and growth of infrastructure, and its construction industry is already contemplating new projects to provide multi links between South Africa to other African countries.
Africa mostly exports its resources to BRIC nations, whose GDP is set to increase from USD$9-trillion to around USD$18-trillion over the next five years, according to Standard Bank Group estimates.
"Looking ahead, South Africa's resources and access to Africa's markets and BRIC's resource demand, capital and infrastructure expertise, presents us a compelling international partnership for the 21st century.
"As Africa's largest bank with a strong and continuously growing presence in the BRIC markets, Standard Bank Group is set to play an important role in this compelling new partnership. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's investment in Standard Bank Group and our vibrant co-operation underpins our commitment to this role. As we have just celebrated 3 years of strategic partnership, we are optimistic and excited about the future" concluded Mr Bond.
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