南方财经全媒体记者 李依农 约翰内斯堡报道
As the relationship between South Africa and China continues to strengthen, there has been a notable surge in business collaboration and mutual investments between the two nations. SFC journalists had the privilege of visiting Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, where we engaged in an insightful interview with Ndaba Ntsele, the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Pamodzi Investment Holdings, renowned as one of the most successful businessmen in South Africa.
As the conversation unfolds, Ntsele reflects on the fruitful collaborations that have strengthened ties between South Africa and China. He remarked, “We are very good in our relationship with China, and I'm hoping for the best in terms of increasing the opportunities of both countries.”
Furthermore, Ntsele underscored the key factors contributing to China's success, emphasizing education, patriotism, and the diligent work ethic observed in the Chinese people, adding that he is amazed by the level of China's industriousness and its modest, yet rapid development and growth.
In addition to detailing the positive aspects of the China-South Africa relationship, Ntsele touched upon the significance of BRICS as a future global trend and the potential impact of this collaboration on the world, stating that the BRICS is the future of the world.
China-South Africa Business Collaboration is Flourishing
SFC Markets and Finance: I'm curious about your stories of how you built the company, and what's your passions from.
Ndaba Ntsele: The passion comes from my family. We had businesses from my mother's side and my father's side, so I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Hence, I also wanted to build a big corporation. And I started Pamodzi in 1979. Forty-four years now, six years to go, then half a century.
SFC Markets and Finance: Your business involved a lot of cooperation with China, right? Can you elaborate on that?
Ndaba Ntsele: Our business is simple. We're doing mergers and acquisition. We buy into companies, and then we look at different sectors, and then we grow these companies. At times we also get licenses from international companies, like with a license of Nike from America. So we own Nike in South Africa. We promoted Nike from zero to number one in South Africa.
And one of the companies that we work with in China was the FAW, First Auto Works. Personally, I can also tell you I've been to China. It's my second home. I've been there many, many times. When I get to the restaurant, my iPhone, I converted into the Chinese language. I eat with Chinese chopsticks. You can't beat me.
I've been around China. Our last trip with my team here, we went to China specifically for what we do, to interact and bring international companies in South Africa and expand to southern Africa. So we're helping them with their growth for the continent. But the biggest thing that we did in these deals is that they also bought shares combined. So, it's like a marriage. We have to work together is what they suggested.
And another positive thing about China and South Africa is like our name Pamodzi ("Togetherness"),means we are one. We are one, that's how the expression (demonstrates) there is solidarity, that they set up a company here, and then you are going to be in charge. So, our job there is also to bring a lot of a product that's going to solve (problems of) our country and the continent.
Right now, we are in clean energy. So together with our partner in South Africa, we are going to work towards ending loadshedding. And we are going to work towards increasing energy in the continent. Because why China is successful, China is successful because key things happen in China.
Education, number one. And then two, patriotism, and honestly, the work for the country. And number three, energy, light. We go to the highways, go anywhere in China, there's energy. So the industrial manufacturers in China, they are in a comfortable position because of you have leading companies in energy and also in telecoms. Now, those are two key ingredients in expanding businesses and creating growth, communication and energy. And then the rest will put China to a status right now. Chinese are hard workers, all of them. There's nobody not working hard. And today, we are proud of China.
I can also tell you that the relationship of myself and China goes even from the time that South Africa joined BRICS. At that time, the whole world didn't like the relationship between China and Africa and the BRICS countries, especially us in South Africa. I had to answer questions about whether this BRICS thing is not going to last, if it is not going to work. But today, as a BRICS council member, when we did our numbers, at that time, the population at BRICS and the resources were higher than the rest of the world, we were slightly higher than them. But now the whole continent, including Arab countries are coming on board. So, BRICS is going to be bigger than the so-called "first world" or "western world", including America. We have tension and friction that are happening because of that. But to us as South African, we are in the forefront of a relationship with China and the rest of the world, which was created by our politicians. And I applaud them for that.
BRICS is Shaping the Future of Global Dynamics
SFC Markets and Finance: I think the BRICS is the future of the world.
Ndaba Ntsele: BRICS is the future of the world. It makes business to be exciting because the whole world is panicking that we are going to use the Yuan as a currency. And now the Americans with their dollar. And of course, we have to create those situations where China, Brazil, South Africa, we can buy with our own currencies, exchange of businesses with our own currencies. So you are 100% correct when you say the future is BRICS. And then we are part of that. And we are happy about it.
The Chinese government, they overcame a lot of challenges to create that situation. When I went to China a long time ago, in the late 80s and 90s, I had a perception of China. And then I went to China again for business. I mean, the same airport. It's a whole Sandton City or the whole London, the airport. When you land there, is something else. I was impressed how Chinese quietly develop themselves. And, of course, I went to Shanghai and also the free trade zone there. Next to Hong Kong is Guangdong. Then you see that China is moving, and it is moving very fast in terms of industrial manufacturing.
So my company is lucky, or we created luck with my team here. With all these guys, we are working so close with Chinese. We're partners. And we're like children of the same father and mother with them. We're growing business, and we're going to grow even further.
China-South Africa Friendship on the Rise
SFC Markets and Finance: From your perspectives, China and South Africa is developing stronger and stronger friendship. How significant is that friendship for the world and for both countries?
Ndaba Ntsele: That friendship is significant, because South Africa in terms of the infrastructure, technology and then also resources, and the legal fertility, and the accounting fertility, we are very high up in the world. So these relationships, especially with China, are going to (have) influence like China's got influence on the whole world, and South Africa has an influence in the continent.
So that relationship, like the last BRICS Business Forum, that was here a couple of months ago, it was the most successful one.
The whole world was looking at South Africa and China. And then the Chinese president came here and then committed with a lot of development that is going to happen here. So, the cooperation is getting stronger and stronger and stronger.
SFC Markets and Finance: I think it's exciting to see what two countries can create, a better future.
Ndaba Ntsele: The future is bright for our children. They're going to be living in a better world because we're the trailblazers. We created a nice path for them. We just got to keep on promoting it and keep on visiting China. And then also, you guys keep on coming here. Because these days, the world is one. You can leave today, tomorrow in China and come back and all that. So the cooperation is excellent, and learning from each other is also super excellent.
Belt and Road Initiative Foster Closer Ties Between the Two Nations
SFC Markets and Finance: I believe South Africa is also the first country in Africa that supports the Belt and Road Initiative.
Ndaba Ntsele: Yes, South Africa is the first country to do that initiative. It's also the first country to send students to China. There's one guy, this guy's daughter speaks Chinese better than you. The father took her to China, studied in China, and all that back here. And I'm not lying, she's got master's degree, and all that she studied in Chinese language. You might have seen our government and the Chinese come into cooperation, and they send a lot of students to China. And people have come back with super knowledge from China.
SFC Markets and Finance: That also makes us closer because we understand each other.
Ndaba Ntsele: Yes, exactly. And there are a lot of Chinese community (here), this is their home country now. So we are very good in our relationship with China. And I'm hoping for the best in terms of increasing the opportunities of both countries.
I'm seeing these countries who are increasing their opportunity in the continent, that are now with us. And they are also going to build some factories with us here. I'm busy with my team working, looking for sites for their factories. We're going to manufacture and take their product to the rest of the continent. So these companies will be growing with us on the continent. And there's a dream that we are pursuing. We're going to do it. We are going to list some of these companies on Johannesburg stock exchange, and also in the Chinese mainland, we're looking at that. And there also the possibility of listing in Hong Kong. So that's a further development that we are going to do. So by listing there, we are also showing confidence and having investment in China.
SFC Markets and Finance: I think a lot of corporation is focused on the mutual benefits between the two countries.
Ndaba Ntsele: Yes, it is. And we've shown it in different manners. In terms of manufacturing, the lot of manufacturing that is happening here is filled Chinese products and there are also certain things that were exported to China. Now, our biggest opportunity, as South Africans, and we're doing right now is food security to export to China. Our agriculture is advance. So we've got excess, and some of the excess, at this point in time, we're exporting to China. So the food security is actually very, very good.
SFC Markets and Finance: So what's your prospect on the future of the relationship between two countries and also the BRI going (forward)?
Ndaba Ntsele: The prospect is, as I said, particularly at this point in time, is excellent. The tool that put us together is BRICS. And then also the glue that put us together, is that South Africa, from an industrialization point of view, is the highest in South Africa. And China, from the industrial point of view, is number one in the whole of Asia and including the whole of the world. Because everybody manufactures in China. All the products, Nike, Reebok, Adidas, they go and manufacture them in China and bring them back. So you are great industrialists. And the relationship with politicians are good right now. Your President showed us when he was here during BRICS, and the BRICS was a huge success here in South Africa, it was a huge success.
SFC Markets and Finance: And it's attracting more and more countries wanting to join in.
Ndaba Ntsele: Yes, more and more countries. And I'm not sure where is the next BRICS Summit. I hope it's in China because I'd like us, with my team, the entire team to go there, because the relationship is very good right now.
Businesses are Important for Promoting Understading
SFC Markets and Finance: You have been to China many, many times.
Ndaba Ntsele: Yes. I've been, I must be honest, I've been here a lot of (times). The history there is powerful. There's a good history. When we're also in China recently with the team here, they took us to some museums, the Chinese history is solid. The civilization of China come from years, years, years back. So we're exposed to that.
Here in South Africa, some time back, one of the museums, we went to with my team, it was on TV. So my wife was watching and said, hey, look at this. When I said to her, when we went to China, we went to this place. She said, no, no, not possible. I said, but I was there. So I showed her pictures.
SFC Markets and Finance: The businesses plays a really important role in facilitating friendship between the two countries.
Ndaba Ntsele: Exactly. But then I also want to applaud you guys, because the politics will remain here. But then, we need to have more interviews, business interviews, financial interviews, because the world, when you are at school, they don't see companies, like yourself, that you are a finance media group. As such, children get to know about finance when they are working already with salaries and all that. You have to push that direction.
I mean, congratulation for taking that direction. To pull that direction is what the kids must understand, that the business after education and everything is the one that is going to take the world to the next level and also create growth. We need more media houses that are going to talk about business, because we've got sports, world politics and all that. But business is actually super interesting. When you look at Elon Musk, it's where you see how important business is. Business makes everything possible.
记者: 李依农 实习生梁旭琦
新媒体统筹：丁青云 曾婷芳 赖禧 黄达迅
海外运营编辑：庄欢 吴婉婕 龙李华 张伟韬