China Plans Increased Tech Collaboration With South Africa, Its Top African Trade Partner

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

China is South Africa’s biggest trade partner and that partnership is set to deepen through increased tech collaboration between the two countries.

South Africa has been China’s top African trade partner for eight years, while China has been South Africa’s biggest trade partner for nine consecutive years, according to Businesstech.

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Bilateral trade volumes between the two countries amounted to $39.17 billion in 2017, according to StatsSA.

A roundtable discussion between key stakeholders from both China and South Africa took place in Pretoria recently, with tech collaboration on the agenda, as digital economy, cyber security and e-government were identified as areas where partnerships may be forged and collaboration would take place, according to ITWebAfrica.

The Chinese delegation was headed by Gao Xiang, vice-minister from the Bureau of International Cooperation of the Cyberspace Administration of China.

Delegates that attended the discussion agreed that collaboration and partnerships are crucial to building sustainable industries that are able to promote rapid adoption of ICT technologies, create jobs and contribute towards the growth of the respective economies.

Biggest trade partner commits to invest more

As fellow Brics nations and emerging market economies, China and South Africa share close ties, and this relationship has been further strengthened since South African President Cyril Ramaphosa took office earlier this year.

Ramaphosa pushed for investment from China during a state visit from the country in July, and he secured a $14.7-billion investment commitment from the Asian nation, according to DispatchLive.

trade partner
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Image – AP Photo – Andy Wong

It is not just at government level that China has been supportive of the South African economy and its ICT potential, with private business also showing an appetite for investment and collaboration.

In August, Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma, whose wealth is valued at $28.3 billion, announced a $10 million fund that will support African entrepreneurs who are working within the digital economy to address Africa’s most important challenges.

The founder and executive chairman of global e-commerce giant Alibaba launched the program, dubbed ‘Netpreneur’, with $10 million set to be awarded to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, according to Ventureburn.

The announcement was made in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Asia’s richest man was speaking at an event organized by the Alibaba Business School, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) and the Jack Ma Foundation.

The Netpreneur prize will focus on small business growth, grassroots innovation and women founders in particular, according to ITWebAfrica.

A pitch event will be hosted by the Jack Ma Foundation on an annual basis from 2019, with 10 finalists from all over Africa competing for $1 million in prize money while impressing their ideas and innovations to investors who will be present.

Two months later Ramaphosa paid Ma a visit at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hang Zhou, and the Chinese businessman agreed to work with the South African government to set up a digital training center dedicated to developing entrepreneurs in the country, EWN reported.

Ma returned to South Africa in October, at the invitation of President Ramaphosa, to attend the South African government’s international investment summit and show his support for South Africa as a destination for global investment,

Over 1,300 business and government leaders from 35 countries attended the summit, with Ramaphosa announcing $15.27 billion worth of investment from numerous countries, as well as local and international businesses, according to TheCitizen.

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