South Africa is a promising investment destination, business executives from companies from around the world said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town this week.
"The [African] continent and particularly South Africa is a very promising, interesting destination for investments," said Pedro Pereira da Silva, chief operating officer and country manager Poland and Portugal for Jeronimo Martins Dystrybucja.
Pereira da Silva is one of over 600 business leaders attending the two-day forum, which ends on Friday.
He said with Europe's continuing gloomy outlook, the Portuguese food distribution and manufacturing group was looking at growing markets like Africa and South America to expand.
The group has operations in Poland, Portugal and Colombia and is now looking to open offices in Africa.
'Africa as the next growth avenue'
"We are looking to Africa as the next growth avenue and we think it's a very promising destination," Pereira da Silva said.
The chairperson of Indian mining and manufacturing group Ispat Corporation, Vinod Mittal, said his group was exploring various opportunities in mining and power generation in South Africa.
"There is a lot of potential and we are focusing on this country. I think personally it's quite good, very promising," he said.
South Africa had a sizeable market demand and its investment in the environment was promising, Mittal added.
Group chairperson of the Azibo Group, Mayank Patel, said the UK financial services company was looking at expanding its operations in South Africa to the rest of Africa.
The Azibo Group set up operations in South Africa seven years ago.
A stepping stone
"Where originally our growth and expansion plans had looked at traditional places like Europe and the US and Asia, now we realise that from a strategic perspective, that to grow and expand our business, we have to look at Africa as an expansion," Patel said.
"South Africa now is only a stepping stone for us to begin considering getting into other economies like Angola, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana, so there are prospects and huge opportunities for us."
Patel said it hadn't been easy launching operations in South Africa, but said that this was a likely experience for any company attempting to break into new markets anywhere in the world.
"It's one of those things that any place you go to, anywhere new you are going to, you have new cultures, you have to localise your business very quickly, but sometimes you can't localise as fast as you want. It takes time but perseverance eventually pays off."
He pointed out that South Africa was well positioned time zone-wise with Europe, had a good financial services sector and was open to foreign influence and exposure.