The Canada – South Africa Chamber of Business was originally founded in 1994 to promote business and development interests between the two countries. However, reflecting its members broader geographic interests across Africa it has since expanded its focus to include sub-Saharan Africa.
Today the Canada – South Africa Chamber of Business has become the premier African focused business association in Canada. Based in Toronto, this not-for-profit organisation sees some 60% to 70% of its membership made up of mining and infrastructure focused companies. Its corporate membership comprises just over 100 companies and individuals. Members include groups such Hatch, De Beers and Fasken Martineau. It has a database of some 3,500 contacts, of whom some 700 to 1,000 attend the Chamber’s events in any given year.
The past chairman and current president of the Canada – South Africa Chamber of Business since 2000, Bruce Shapiro tells Mining Review Africa that mining dominates trade between the two regions. “The adoption of the new mining code in South Africa opened up opportunities for Canadian mining companies in that country and the Chamber has provided these companies and their peers in Africa with a forum that provides the synergy to network at a very high level.
“No other business organisations conducting business between Canada and other African countries have really gained any traction. This is either because there are not enough Canadian groups active in those individual countries or their expatriate populations in Canada with business interests in Africa are too small to support such individual country focused groups.”
The Chamber promotes interaction by organising events, such as its own Indaba held in Toronto (as are most of the Chamber’s events), which features a high profile business person as the keynote speaker. The 2008 event had Warren Newfield, CEO of CIC Energy Corporation, who is also founder and chairman of Tau Capital, speaking on the energy situation in Southern Africa. The event typically draws some 180 to 250 people, all high level delegates, typically company CEOs and vice presidents.
The Chamber also hosts an annual mining breakfast during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention in Toronto each March. The PDAC is the largest mining show in the world, about 10 times bigger than Cape Town’s Indaba. This event, entering its 10th year, is the premier African focused event during PDAC drawing some 300 participants. Past speakers have included South Africa’s Minister of Minerals and Energy and high profile mining executives including Ian Cockerill, Rick Menell, Bridgette Radebe, and Peter Kinver. The keynote speaker for the March 3, 2009 breakfast is Gordon Miller, CEO of First Uranium Corporation and Simmer and Jack Mines.
The Canada – South Africa Chamber of Business invites all Africa focused business groups wishing to reach investors and business opportunities in North America and the UK to make contact with it.