Nine South African companies that participated in a trade mission to Senegal have clinched orders for halaal products totalling more than R100m over five years.

The trip in early June, organised by Wesgro, the Western Cape’s trade and investment promotion agency, came as the Western Cape looks to establish itself as a major exporter of halaal products. In all, 12 firms from a range of sectors across the province participated and the deals are expected to yield about 84 jobs.

The Western Cape is pursuing opportunities in East, West and North Africa, as well as in Asia and the Middle East, where the majority of the world’s Muslim population lives. The fast-growing global halaal market is worth more than $2.3-trillion.

The agency was aiming to establish the province as a major exporter of halaal products, said Michael Gamwo, who heads Wesgro’s Africa unit.

"We chose Senegal because it has a 90% Muslim population and is a springboard to enter other countries in the subregion such as Mali and Guinea," said Gamwo. The halaal goods export strategy also focused on Nigeria, Cameroon, Asia and the Middle East, he said.

"Nigeria has a very large Muslim population.… Cameroon is also a hub for the central African region and is a springboard to accessing other countries in that region…. Our ambition is to be one of the leading exporters of halaal products," said Gamwo.

In 2015, the provincial government announced that R1bn would be set aside for a halaal food park expected to generate up to R5bn for the local economy each year.

Three sites, one near Cape Town airport, another in Stellenbosch and a third in Paarl, were identified as potential locations for the park.

A feasibility study was being finalised for the park, said Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde. It was envisaged that the park would present significant opportunities for private sector investment and encourage the establishment of a globally recognised halaal-certifying body.

Wesgro had also been tasked with developing and implementing a Western Cape halaal products export promotion plan, Winde said.

"We completed phase one … in December. This stage included the initial screening of 19 potential sites across the province. In the second phase, we are conducting an in-depth study into three short-listed sites, at Cape Town International Airport, Klapmuts and Lynedoch. As part of this process, we are developing investor prospectuses for each site."

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