SA Companies Happy With Mission to Cuba

A group of South African businesspeople who arrived in the country from Cuba have expressed their satisfaction with their mission to the Caribbean island and are optimistic of tangible results in the near future. The group, which comprises of exporters who exhibited their products in the annual Havana International Trade Fair, and investors who participated in the first investment mission to Cuba to be organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) has been in Cuba since October 31.

Mr Cameron McGregor of PGBI Engineers and Constructors said the mission was a great success from his company’s perspective due to the productive meetings he held in Cuba.

“Two separate meetings that I held with delegations from the Foreign Investment Division of the Cuban sugar group, AZCUBA, and their engineering division resulted in us signing a letter of intent to move the discussions forward and determine how best we can work together on one of the 19 cogeneration projects planned for the country’s sugar industry. The identified project is a 60MW cogeneration plant estimated at US$90 million,” says McGregor who was part of the investment mission.

Mr Felix Tjaone of Bradbri, a capital equipment company says he is happy to return from Cuba with a proposal for his company to set up an engineering facility in Havana and manufacture components for the sugar, mining and automotive industries.

“The Cubans are planning to rehabilitate their engineering plant which contains old machinery and they would like us to bring new technology and equipment to upgrade it. They have embarked on an economic path aimed at boosting their industrialisation and increasing their manufacturing and export capacities. More follow-up discussions still have to take place but we are optimistic that we will strike a deal and set up a joint-venture in the near future and establish our presence in Cuba,” said Tjaone.

The mission to Cuba also lived up to the expectations of Mr Kennedy Morolong from Acumen, a software development and business consulting firm.

“I had two good meetings that I am confident will result in tangible deals after further engagements. A software marketing company representing a number of software development companies in Cuba expressed keen interest in partnering with us. They will translate our software applications into Spanish and distribute our software products in the Caribbean countries and beyond,” says Morolong, who also got an opportunity to present his tourism software solutions for grading of hotels to the Cuban ministry of tourism.

Mr Peter Wehrly of Matrix Yachts could not contain his excitement for returning home with an order of two boats worth more than R28 million from a big international tourism company based in Havana but operating in various parts of the world.

“We had been working on the deal for some time and we are happy that we finally clinched it. However, there is still lot of work ahead in terms of raising funds to finance the deal. It has been a struggle in the past when we negotiated the deal but we are hoping that the SA government will come on board and assist us as it has reiterated its commitment to assist SA businesses do business in Cuba and increase trade and investment between the two countries,” said Wehrly adding that the Cuban company planned to order two boats per year from Matrix Yachts until 2020 and three per year thereafter.

For Mr Stuart Quenipel of Rock Solid Industries, the meeting he had with a South African company based in Panama will probably see his canopies, which he manufactures in Durban, finding their way to the Caribbean and South America regions.

Mr Fedisang Shabalala from Shaweni Consulting Engineers hopes the brief interaction he had with officials from the Cuban ministry of construction will enable his company to be part of the project of designing and construction of golf courses the officials indicated was due for implementation. He also met with representatives of the agency for Cuban engineering professionals and discussed the possibility of an exchange programme in which engineers from his company will be sent to Cuba and vice versa.