The second Business Beyond Borders (BBB) matchmaking event for SMEs and clusters took place last week (16-18 May) at African Utility Week (AUW), Cape Town. During three eventful and prolific days, companies in the water, power and utilities sector met potential business partners, presented their business and technology in the BBB Demo Zone, attended the EREF/RECP workshop on hydropower and participated in the BBB Social Media Competition. Before all that, however, they had the opportunity to attend AUW’s opening keynote session, in which the Danish Ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Thygesen, represented the voice of the EU and highlighted the possibilities for collaboration between European and African businesses.
Underlining the rising importance of Africa’s role in the world and as a EU partner in the last 10 years, Ambassador Thygesen stressed that African markets with strong growth rates provide several opportunities for increased cooperation between both continents – including the recent EU-African partnership proposal on peace, security and youth employment.
Still on the topic of global growth and cooperation, Ambassador Thygesen stated that “90% of global growth comes from outside the EU” and that EU “SMEs need further support to go international”. In this context, the Danish Ambassador to South Africa drew attention to the BBB initiative: “This project is providing additional support to companies (and clusters”. I am excited to see new business partnerships formed from this and I strongly urge you to learn more about the programme or visit the BBB project pavilion if you are already interested in a direct participation. Our doors are open for Africa”.
Given the strong focus of AUW on water and power, Ambassador Thygesen also highlighted the potential for renewables to reshape Africa’s energy scene: “integrating variable renewable sources into the grid is absolutely doable and it is an integrated part of a forward-looking energy system”. Likewise, the Danish Ambassador to South Africa urged the private sector to further invest in water projects, initiatives and infrastructure development, stating that “the answer to unlocking more potential lies in the formulation of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) within the water sector”.
“I am urging all of you to engage in stronger mutual engagement and increased cooperation – domestically and internationally”, beseeched Ambassador Thygesen in the final remarks of her keynote speech, bidding all delegates and visitors a fruitful experience at the trade fair. “May AUW be the platform for engaging in new sustainable and inclusive economic development in Africa as well as the EU”.
Want to know more about Ambassador Thygesen’s keynote speech at AUW? (Re-)watch the speech on the BBB Twitter account (Parts 1 and 2). You can also follow Ambassador Thygesen’s official Twitter account here.
Pictures of the Business Beyond Borders event at AUW are already available on BBB’s Flickr account.