Doha Bank hosted a virtual client interaction session in collaboration with the South African Embassy and Qatari Embassy on the topic “Bilateral and Synergistic Opportunities between Qatar and South Africa” on 21 April 2021. The Speakers at the event included H.E. Tariq Ali Faraj Al- Ansari, Ambassador of the State of Qatar in the Republic of South Africa, H.E Mr. Faisal Moosa, Head of Mission, South African Embassy in Doha, Mr Cobus Lombard, Chief Operating Officer, Souq Ukaz and Mr. Ronak Gopaldas, Director, Signal Risk. Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank was the moderator of the event.
The Welcome and Introductory Note was given by Mr. André Snyman, Acting Chief International Banking Officer, Doha Bank. He gave insight on macro- economic fundamentals of Qatar and South Africa.
H.E. Tariq Ali Faraj Al- Ansari, Ambassador of the State of Qatar in the Republic of South Africa spoke on Qatar – South Africa bilateral relations. Qatar and South Africa should focus on trade, economy and banking co-operations. Qatar has a national vision and sectoral strategies for diversification of sources of natural income and to reduce the dependence on fossil and fuel. South Africa has excellent relationship with Qatar in the last two decades. The air-service agreements support business, tourism and enhance ties between Qatar and South Africa. Qatar Airways have 31 flights a week from Doha to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, plus 15 cargo flights. The trade in the last 5 years is approx. $2bn. Agreements have been signed on Double Taxation and Protection of Investment and Promotion of Technical Co-operation between both the countries. QCB is an active regulator and is able to handle the emerging challenges of 21st Century. Doha Bank Representative Office in South Africa has helped South African companies in financing. We expect bigger role from Doha Bank in providing services to individuals and embassies and also relationships with other banks. The banks in Qatar should work with BRICS Bank in South Africa. We are looking forward to enhancing relationships between Business chambers of both countries. The embassies in both countries are enhancing initiatives on tourism. The embassy of the State of Qatar stands ready to provide all support to Qatar banks and companies.
H.E Mr. Faisal Moosa, Head of Mission, South African Embassy in Doha gave insight on the South Africa’s natural resources, infrastructure development, technology developments and power generation programs in South Africa. The African Continental Free Trade Area framework will provide great opportunity to provide trade relationships between Qatar and various countries on the African continent. The single African market is worth $1.3tn. Many opportunities prevail for SMEs in agriculture. A Qatar South Africa Business Council needs to be established to facilitate interaction between Qatar and South African Businessmen. South Africa is a stable investment location.
Mr Cobus Lombard, Chief Operating Officer, Souq Ukaz spoke on the role of retail in the Qatari market. Souq Ukaz is an online platform. The grocery industry was positively influenced by Covid-19, as online shopping volumes have increased across the globe. The entire retail landscape changed during Qatar Blockade as Qatar was successful in finding alternate suppliers. There are great opportunities for high quality South African products in the Qatar retail segment, particularly in the grocery segment. Qatar has a very mature retail market. The retail hospitality market is also a major consumer of imported items. Mr Lombard ended off by re-iterating that Qatar is open for business.
Mr. Ronak Gopaldas, Director, Signal Risk. He addressed the outlook for Africa in 2021 – specifically looking at how the continent handled COVID-19, its prospects for recovery and the governance implications of vaccine diplomacy and geopolitics. In relation to Africa and the Covid-19 Pandemic, the outlook is mixed, with varied responses across the continent. Overall, however the continent experienced a much lower mortality and morbidity rate than other regions of the world, which surprised on the upside. Despite this initial success, policymakers cannot afford to become complacent given more virulent strains, lockdown fatigue, limited financial resources and slow vaccine procurement. Economically, Africa experienced its first recession in 25 years due to the combination of commodity price declines, Covid-19 and rising costs of funding. Many countries are highly indebted and navigating this debt dilemma will be the key priority for governments, bilateral and private sector creditors to navigate this year. Rising commodity prices, improving risk sentiment and supportive financial conditions should also support the recovery. Vaccine inequality remains an ongoing problem, with Africa lagging behind the rest of the world. Global superpowers will compete for reach and relevance across the continent via vaccine diplomacy.
Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank, gave insight into the global scenario and developments in Qatar. The global economy is witnessing multiple Covid-19 virus mutants. Global trade was impacted by Covid-19. According to IMF April 2021, Global economy is expected to grow by 6% in 2021. Dr Seetharaman also gave insight on the latest Fed policy and President Biden’s infra plan. He highlighted initiatives of QCB and Qatar Government during Covid-19 and recent Qatar LNG expansion plans. He stated that a draft law has come into effect in April 2021 which allows 100% foreign ownership in Qatari listed companies and provides opportunity for global investors.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Mrs. Annerie Visser, Chief Representative, Doha Bank South Africa Representative Office.
Source: Doha Bank