- Neville Matjie says KwaZulu-Natal was well positioned to become a leading exporter in the growing international halaal industries.
- Matjie said there was great room for growth in the market as the African continent alone had 500 million practicing Muslims.
- He estimated the value of the industries in the halaal space globally to be over a trillion dollars in sectors including food, tourism and pharmaceuticals.
KwaZulu-Natal was hit hard by last year’s unrest in July, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic to boot. But as it works toward recovery, one think tank is optimistic that it can lead the way in an industry with 500 million consumers across Africa and which brings in trillions of dollars in revenue globally.
Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) chief executive officer Neville Matjie told Fin24 that as it supports businesses suffering from the impact of the pandemic and unrest, pipelines are being developed for businesses in the province to service the halaal market globally.
TIKZN is a provincial government agency established to promote KZN as an investment destination.
Matjie says KZN-based businesses could set themselves up for growth by developing goods and services that are deemed suitable by the standards of the Islamic faith. This includes businesses getting successful accreditation for their products and ensuring ethical, sustainable, and cruelty-free sourcing of those products.
According to Matjie, TIKZN – along with halaal accreditation bodies such as the South African National Halaal Authority – has developed a plan to assist businesses in the province to become exporters in the halaal industry. The agency drove this idea at the Investment Indaba which took place in Durban this week between Tuesday and Thursday.
According to Pew Research, Islam has been the fastest-growing established religion in the world since at least 2017, with this trend in growth expected to continue over the next three decades. The religion dominates especially in populations in Africa, the Middle East, and southeast Asia.
This shows in the numbers too, as the halaal industries’ combined value globally was estimated to stand at $1.9 trillion in 2020.
The agency’s move to target the halaal market is not occurring in isolation. Matjie says when the unrest occurred, TIKZN immediately mobilised a key security cluster response led by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala to assist affected businesses.
“We gave the private sector feedback to assure them that things were under control and ensure an element of stability. Companies came forward with their continued commitment to staying in KZN. Massmart came with plans for their continued stay in KZN,” says Matjie.
Matjie says KZN MEC for Economic Development Ravi Pillay led a delegation to Pretoria last year to speak to the diplomatic core with an assurance that the government was dealing with safety and security issues in KZN.
“We will continue to spread the message that KZN is safe and open for business. We have done sessions in Gauteng and the Western Cape speaking to businesses directly, letting them know that those weeks in KZN were not the norm,” Matjie says.
“We have started focusing on the manufacturing of halaal products. There are an estimated 500 million Muslims in Africa alone and this is a huge opportunity for Durban. It creates an opportunity to export products to these regions.
“Our main focus is on the manufacturing of the halaal products, and we were making businesses aware that they don’t have to be Muslim to produce halaal products,” Matjie says.
Matjie said the halaal industry crossed over between various sectors including food, medication, clothing, pharmaceuticals, and tourism, with a growing Muslim consumer base looking for halaal products in all of these areas.
“Our next steps for here are capacity building of exporters in terms of ensuring they are ready for halaal industries. We want to establish a halaal hub for certified space. Increase market for companies and it’s a multi-trillion US dollar market,” he says.
Matjie says that one misconception that TIKZN hoped to do away with was the misnomer that a business or an entrepreneur has to be Muslim to operate in the halaal industries space. He says all a business needs to service the halaal industry is to be accredited.
Matjie says the KwaZulu-Natal also modified its Economic Recovery Plan to include a greater emphasis on security, with increased engagements between security agencies and businesses on potential and future hints of protracted instability.
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