BY | March 26, 2013

Durban, (IANS) South African companies can play a major role in India’s plans to pump $1 trillion over the next five years in infrastructure development, almost half of which is envisaged by the private sector, including firms from overseas, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has said.

South African companies have respectable experience, expertise and technical skills in handling infrastructure development in emerging economies, said Sharma, who is here as part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s delegation at the 5th BRICS Summit.

“India is rolling out massive developments touching rail, road, telecoms, power and airport infrastructure. This makes for a perfect opportunity to increase trade and investment between the two nations and by extension, within the BRICS establishment,” he told The New Age newspaper.

Some South African companies already have a presence in India, notably Old Mutual, that deals in commercial property development and ACSA and Bidvest that participated in a concession that re-developed and runs the Mumbai airport.

Sharma said BRICS member states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – were positioned to complement and learn from another but it was important to recognise the unique socio-economic circumstances faced by each of them.

The current summit, he added, was an important chapter in the development of the five-nation bloc, as not only the leaders but a series of ministers were also participating both at the main event as also in the preparatory meetings preceding it.

The group’s importance can also be understood by the fact that its five-member nations collectively account for about 40 percent of the world’s population, 30 percent of the world’s land mass, 20 percent of the gross domestic product in real terms and 26 percent of purchasing power.

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