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Environment & Energy-Saving Business Inspection Tour in South Africa

Environment & Energy-Saving Business Inspection Tour in South Africa (17-21 Oct.)

Question: what do you imagine when it comes to ‘Africa’?

As for me it is ‘Safari’.
In spite of hearing so much about South Africa’s rapid development and its participation in BRICs, I still cannot help but imagine lions, elephants, zebras, and so on. Thus I was worrying whether the business meeting in South Africa would go well this time.

However, after paying a visit (mostly in the city center, though) there, I was surprised by its prosperity; it was more than I could have imagined.

Here in this blog I would like to share my experience in South Africa (a quite short stay, though).

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This is Johannesburg Airport. I was greeted and healed from a long tiresome journey by its African style tile of floor and the joyful BGM music.
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I took a ceremonial photo in front of the hotel.

The season is spring. The humidity is low, and the temperature during daytime is around 22 – 26 degrees.
The tree in the picture is ‘jacaranda’ and it is right now in full bloom. The gentle breeze and the blue sky made it a perfect day and I almost forgot that I came here for the business (Oops..!) From now on it will get hotter and hotter and the season is moving toward summer in Dec. It is hard for me to imagine the ‘midsummer Xmas’ in the Southern Hemisphere…
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On the opposite side of my hotel stands the bronze statue of Nelson Mandela (an anti-apartheid activist) in Nelson Mandela Square. Its height is 6m!

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Jacaranda, which I have introduced in the previous part, was planted as the roadside tree around Pretoria; the number was more than 70 thousands. The whole street was colored with gorgeous purple. Similar to the cherry-blossom viewing in Japan, local residents here do the same thing with Jacaranda.

It is pity that the each flower is so big that

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I could barely see the petals floating down elegantly. They just drop vertically towards the ground.

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This is the main dish for the black people. It is made from the kneaded corn powder with beef sausage. The spicy tomato sauce makes a great match with kneaded corn, and it is delicious.

Well, it seems that I was skipping my work so far so I would like to explain the main purpose of this business trip.

In South Africa, as there will be COP17 held in Durban in late Nov., the environment consciousness is raising and the government and private sectors are being called for urgent solutions to environmental issues. Companies home and abroad are trying to take advantage of the opportunities to tap into the market in South Africa. It is the best chance to start a new business here in the field of environment & energy-saving.
Two of the factories I was able to visit were ESKOM, the biggest electric power plant (coal fired power generation) in South Africa.

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and wind-powered electricity site.

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I was also able to pay a courtesy call on Ministry of Science & Technology, and Ministry of Environment. Here I had a brief overview about the politics, economy, and the business needs of South Africa.
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There were also presentations given by Japanese companies about their products and business meetings. The above picture is me giving a presentation. Although I have had several opportunities to give presentations before, I am still not good at speaking in front of a bid crowd of audience…
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The place in the above picture is inside the Japan embassy in South Africa where I was invited for dinner. I can say that it is a very rare opportunity so I would like to extend my gratitude to JETRO who brought me here.
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The dinner ceremony was held at the balcony of the embassy. The white roses in the garden were in full bloom, and I heard that these roses will continue to blossom until next spring! The wind helped send the fragrance of the roses directly to the hall.

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A picture with Ambassador Ozawa. He came to today’s presentation and also listened to my presentation, commenting that my presentation was interesting. What a nice and friendly ambassador! I felt that he could surely provide a strong support for Japanese companies.

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Let’s get back to my food story again. Any idea about what kind of meat this Carpaccio is made from?

The answer is Springbok. It is a cute animal actually.
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Seeing this lovely picture I suppose it is thought cruel to eat them but the truth is, it is so delicious! From what I heard, it is a common dish in Africa.

Let’s move from Johannesburg to Cape Town. It is about 2-hour flight and the distance is 1390km.
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This is Table Mountain ― the symbol of Cape Town. As the name suggests, the shape of the mountain is like a table, and its bluff is a spectacular scene.
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Furthermore, it provides a marvelous prospect looking down from the foot of Cape Town.

Compared with Johannesburg’s altitude (1700m), Cape Town’s altitude is just 7m, so people lacking exercise will become short of breath. The advantage of high altitude is that it is easier to hit a long-distance golf ball due to little air resistance.

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Having a view of South Atlantic Ocean, I really felt that, I am now in the Southern Hemisphere and coming very close to South Pole… It is far far away from Japan…’
The island you can see in the picture above is called Robben Island. This is the place where Nelson Mandela had been taken into custody.

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This little insect is equal to the size of my little finger’s nail. I thought it was a lady beetle, but finally I realized it was a beetle! Various kinds of colorful insects and birds inhabit in this land and it was fun to find them out.

It is a long flight from Japan to South Africa, about 17 hours. On my way to South Africa I thought this is a trip once and for all, but on the last day of my trip I was touched by its attractiveness and energy. I do look forward to visiting this country again.

It was the day I thought that we should expand our business to South Africa as soon as possible and keep making efforts like other Japanese companies do!

Thank you for reading this long blog.

Overseas Sales
Akiko Robinson