Posted: June 19, 2023
The Mpumalanga businesspeople who attended the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) awareness workshop in Mbombela last Thursday are confident that the agreement will provide them with export opportunities across the continent and improve the ease of doing business to address the challenges in order to enable them to trade effectively. The workshop was hosted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), in partnership with the Mpumalanga Growth Development Agency (MEGA).
The interactive information-sharing workshop was part of a series of workshops that the department is rolling out throughout the country from May-July 2023.
The Chief Executive Officer of Masephula Herbal Products, which produces traditional medical plants products, Mr Sam Mdluli, expressed optimism in the agreement which promises to give businesspeople access to the African continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people.
“Our range of products includes Masephula Washukela and Masephula mixture products which heal diabetes, ulcers, bronchitis, body rush, epilepsy, amongst others. Our products are made from natural products and no chemicals are used or added. We currently supply about 30 pharmacies in Mpumalanga and from next week we will be supplying five pharmacies in Gauteng. We are currently exporting to Eswatini and we are planning to expand our export market to other African markets,” said Mdluli.
He added that for his business to expand and get ready to take advantage of the African markets, he will need assistance with a machine that will improve production by automatically filling, closing and labelling bottles.
“This will lead to increased production which will translate into creation of jobs. Our products have been tested by the South African Bureau of Standards. The Universities of Free State and KwaZulu-Natal tested the medication and did the shelf life test. At the moment we need assistance with clinical and animal tests so that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority can register our products. I am looking forward to selling to the hospitals so that many people can get help from these products,” uttered Mdluli.
According to the President of National African Farmers Union in Mpumalanga, Mr Jabu Mahlangu, one of the biggest challenges that farmers are faced with is at the Lebombo border post where there is an estimated 1 500 trucks per day crossing to and from South Africa. He said there is a system blockage at the border.
“Some of our members export fresh produce that cannot be kept in trucks at the border for the whole day. The cost of keeping the machinery operational at the border gate is extremely high. We are therefore urging the South African officials to urgently deal with the border post challenges. We also recommend that there should be clearance away from the border post for bigger trucks that are clogging the system. This can fast-track crossing the border. We are confident that the workshop today did not only share opportunities but will look into the challenges we are facing. We want effortless and seamless movement of goods and people between South Africa and Mozambique so that our produce can find their way to the hotels and restaurants there on time and in good condition,” said Mahlangu.
The Director of Africa Bilateral Economic Relations at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Mr Calvin Phume said the AfCFTA presents a unique opportunity for the continent to attain economic emancipation, which will lead to job creation, poverty alleviation, improved welfare and sustainable development. He added that through the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers, the agreement opens up vast markets of over 1.3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of over $3.4 trillion.
The Chief Executive Officer of Masephula Herbal Products Mr Sam Mdluli.
The Director of Africa Bilateral Economic Relations at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Mr Calvin Phume.
Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
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Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)