Through the eyes of African Chef

Exploring food’s soft power with chef and author Nompumelelo Mqwebu

Nompumelelo Mqwebu is an enterprising chef who has travelled the world to hone her skills. Yet her roots remain firmly planted in her homeland of Africa. She has recently released her debut cookbook, Through the Eyes of an African Chef.

Chef Mwqwebu runs Africa Meets Europe Cuisine, a skills-training and hospitality service provider, as well as the Mzansi International Culinary Festival. Before this, Nompumelelo spent 10 years training and mastering her cooking skills around South Africa and the world, including at culinary schools and kitchens in New York, London, Paris, Bremen and Shannary. She has sat on various judging panels, including judging the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Having trained at the prestigious Ballymalloe Cookery School in Ireland, Chef Mqwebu has mastered the art of making yoghurts, butters, preserves and countless more recipes and methodologies that are included in her book. We chatted to Nompumelelo about food as a powerful ingredient in human and foreign relations.

In your years of travels as a chef, have you experienced the “soft power”of food?

Yes, food transmits with it a cultural identity. When people taste your food, they appreciate and embrace your identity and culture. This bonds well in business as well as in social circles. Offering your food means opening your world. Hospitality is incomplete without food. As part of etiquette, people are catered for when they visit. There’s a certain level of respect people afford you, when you display information of who you are.

A chapter in your book is titled “Ukuhamba Kuzala Induna (My Food Travels)”- if you had the opportunity to travel to any of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), where would you go and why?

Brazil- from what I have learnt over the years about Brazil being the largest country in South America and the most diverse, it fascinates me. I would love to try their local dishes and explore the influences of their neighbouring countries, such as Venezuela and Peru. I am interested in gauging if the food I have eaten outside Brazil, which is said to be authentic Brazilian, measures up to the cooking in Brazil. Dig into their indigenous and ingredients and cooking methods to feed me into their cultural identity.

Each of the BRIC countries have a signature drink or dish – what would South Africa’s be?

South Africa is not a one-nation one-dish type of country. We have indigenous ingredients from our diverse cultures that make up this South African nation, reflected by our 11 official languages. From samp with marrow, to dovhi la mukusule, tsama melon, springbok meat with maize meal rice, ting and many more!

What do you think other nations can learn from South Africa food techniques, from growing and harvesting to preparation and preservation?

The art of preserving meat called mukoki (biltong), which has been with us for decades. It has been transformed to the rest of the world, but much of its important history if from the Khoisan hunters, VhaVenda and other South Africa peoples and has been lost along the way. Another example is umqombothi (traditional Zulu beer) – the fermentation is an age-old formula using sorghum that has entered world trends, but which has been part of our daily lives for centuries. Even looking at the “new”nose-to-tail talk – it has always been here, the relationship between Africans and animals. The skin is used rather than thrown away. The skin is used rather than thrown away. The animal is eaten from the premium cuts to tripe. Horns, hooves, tail hair – everything has its use. Food waste is something of a new phenomenon by reviving our methods of old. 

What can be done to ensure South African effectively uses food for national branding purposes?

We must take up our food identity with the national pride it deserves. We need to listen to our visitors. They do not come to our country to taste their food; they are here for our food. They need us to genuinely welcome them by opening our culinary journey in earnest, sharing who we are that reflective of our roots and our food culture. We are a diverse nation, and that should be reflected fully in our cuisine. Embrace the cultures previously left in our culinary history.

What advice would you give South African chefs who are cooking beyond the borders of our country?

Keep it real. Show pride in your roots and our identity, which is brimming with diverse cultures that are yet to explored. Remember to know where you’re going- it’s important to know your history. 




#TravelTuesday : Claim To Fame

Brazil is home to the biggest carnival in the world, and the Rio Carnival sees over 2-million people per day on the city’s streets.

Russia is home to the world’s longest rail journey – the Trans-Siberian. It starts in Moscow and ends in Vladivostok, with the train crossing several time zones. In addition to the endless birch forests of Siberia, the scenery includes the Ural Mountains and Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world. Distance 5,753 miles while duration is in six days.

India has the largest postal network in the world with over 155, 015 post offices. A single post office on average serves a population of 7,175 people. The country is also home to the world’s only floating post office, which has been operating in Dal Lake, Srinagar since August 2011. 

China is where toilet paper was invented, with simple but much-needed product’s origins dating back to the pre-1300s, when it was exclusively for the emperor’s use.

South Africa is home to the world’s largest bird (ostrich), largest mammal (bull elephant), smallest mammal (dwarf shrew), largest reptile (leatherback sea turtle : 1,500 pounds), largest earthworm (African giant earthworm), fastest animal (cheetah ), tallest animal (giraffe) and the largest fish (whale shark). 



Emerging markets to be hot commodity in 2018

Investments in emerging markets are likely to continue their upward climb


From Chile to Turkey, Peru to Russia, Egypt to India and China, emerging markets have become sharply lucrative again, due to economic policy in these countries not only becoming adaptive to US market shifts – namely, Fed policy – but also becoming proactive by drawing up scenarios that include the prospects of US interest-rate hikes.

This has largely helped stabilise commodity markets – also seen in strengthening currency stability, ultimately leading to stronger confidence in the economy. These countries have also learnt how to weather political crises that once debilitated confidence in their economies and pulled markets into recession.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Country Index, which measures equity market performance in some 26 emerging countries and accounts for 10% of the world market capitalisation, is up to 29.37% year-to-date. Just three months ago, the Index was up 23.4% – the steady increase is noticeable, as is the outperformance when compared with European and US indices. And most of these outperformances are located in Latin America and Asia.

Take Brazil, for example, which is now emerging from three-year recession. Its benchmark Bovespa stock exchange is up 24.20% year-to-date. In Chile, that figure is 35.52%, while in Argentina, which is still waiting to be shifted from the riskier “frontier” market status to “emerging”, the Merval stock exchange is up 62.13%. UK-based financial services group bfinances said in a quarterly report that there is “a surge in emerging market appetite”. It added that as of June 20, 2017, 24% of new equity engagements were focused in emerging markets or “emerging Asia”.

It revealed that emerging-market equity performance grew 18.4% over the period of a year ended June 2017, outperforming European (15.5%) and US equity (9.3%). And this trend is likely to continue, as emerging markets appear to welcome US President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to replace current chief Janet Yellen. The expectation is that while Powell will not halt interest rate increases, he may choose to delay such action for a while.

Powell has voiced his opinion that is may be time to slowly roll back some of the policies that Yellen greenlit – without rocking the boat – in a bid to get the US economy back on track.



These markets, as in Asia, have moved from being commodity-focused (suffering from the commodity-markets crisis of the past two years) to services and technology-based markets. Leading this transformation are China and India, two of the world’s biggest emerging markets and key growth prospects in BRICS.

According to Reuters and MSCI, China’s markets are up 45.2% year-to-date, while India’s markets are up 31.5% in the same period. India’s growth was briefly stunned due to the demonetisation drive launched by the government last year, with GDP growth failing to a three-year low of 5.7% in the second quarter.

However, the government has been pushing for bank reforms and streamlining regulations for foreign investment. In May 2017, it terminated a government body that was tasked with approving foreign direct investment (FDI) – and seen by some as being restrictive- and left the approval of such ventures to individual ministries. This is part of Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s Make in India policy to woo foreign investors and boost the country’s productivity and competitiveness.

According to government statistics, FDI rose 8% between March 2016 and 2017. In early November 2017, a World Bank report lauded India for boosting access to the credit system and making it easier to secure construction permits. India moved up to 30 places in the Bank’s ease-of-doing-business ranking, and the World Bank has also forecast a revival of demand in the commodity markets, which will be a boon to India, China and other.

The Bank says that falling supply and increased demand will largely contribute to a rise in gains for energy and metal commodities in 2017. Boosting the presence and viability of emerging markets is a necessary policy, says Chinese President Xi Jinping. “We need to amplify the voice of emerging markets and developing countries,” he adds.

“We need to seek practical results in our (BRICS) economic co-operation. We have not fully tapped the potential of BRICS yet,” Xi said at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen in September 2017.

In its latest economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in August that China can expect sustained strong growth of 6.7% this year and a likely average of 6.4% revised up from 6 – until 2021. But the report said that China must quickly move to curb “household, corporate and government debt, which are expected to continue rising strongly”.

Nevertheless, the manufacturing sector has continued sustained growth in China since last year. The country’s Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) was 51.0 in October. The government survey tracks the health of some 3 000 large and state-owned companies. The reading is above the neutral 50-point level, signalling an expansion in the manufacturing sector, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. A reading below 50 represents contraction.



This article first appeared in the BRICS Post

#LocalFindsWednesday: Maxhosa by Laduma

South African knitwear and esteemed runway designer, Laduma Ngxokolo started his brand, Maxhosa by Laduma in 2010.

The brand was inspired by the Xhosa culture with the vision to create a modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collection that would be suitable for Amakrwala – Xhosa initiates – who dress up in new ‘dignified’ formal clothing for six months after their manhood initiation.

Laduma felt inspired to create knitwear that caters for men and women and celebrates traditional Xhosa aesthetics and drew inspiration from Xhosa beadwork patterns, symbolism and colours.

Since his career took off, Ngxokolo received numerous achievements and captured the hearts of fashion lovers, both locally and abroad, more specifically London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and New York. In 2016, the Design Indaba awarded Ngxokolo’s shawl the coveted title of ‘The Most Beautiful Object in SA’.

Here are some signature Maxhosa by Laduma collections (courtesy of

– The Mtanom’gquba collection celebrates dark skin tones in contrast with bright hues to elevate the appreciation of colour diversity. It captures the beauty of being truly African in a modern context that seeks an eternal way of communicating culture through fashion.

– Socks collection – Maxhosa believes that your feet carry you to an occasion you never anticipated you’d appear in

– My Heritage, My Inheritance which was dedicated to his late mother Lindelwa Ngxokolo, whose dream as a knitwear in the 80s was to travel to Paris to see high-end fashion. Maxhosa made his mother dream come true when he was invited by the Labo Ethinik Fashion Week to showcase his 2013 knitwear.

The brand has also received numerous accolades, including:
– 2014 Premium International Best Emerging Designer for SS15 Menwear
– 2014 Africa Fashion International Emerging Designer of the year award
– 2015 Vogue Italia Scouting for Africa Award
– 2016 Fashion Designer of the Year Southern Africa: ABRYANZ Style and Fashion Awards
– 2017 Pride of Africa: Africa Fashion Week Barcelona Awards

Source :

How to Grow and Develop Small Manufacturing Businesses

With the onset of pioneering innovations in the manufacturing sphere, prospective business owners are often faced with a plethora of questions when contemplating how to break into this sector. To answer and address the most pressing questions and concerns regarding the development of small manufacturing units, a team of manufacturing pundits and entrepreneurs are to gather at the Small Business Indaba. This event will feature alongside the Manufacturing Indaba 2018, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Africa’s economic hub, on the 19th and 20th of June 2018.

Business expansion through capital acquisition is one of the most challenging phases of company growth. Within the manufacturing sector, this aspect is even more concerning, due to the extensive financial injections required during the initial phases of business development. Lack of information and awareness regarding financing options often hampers potential entrepreneurs from executing their plans. It is therefore imperative to explore the merits and drawbacks of all available options for acquiring capital and applying effective strategies for improving a company’s chances of receiving funding from financial institutions.

Small manufacturing units are usually backed by a competent idea for driving business growth, however, these ideas are seldom supported by a strong and well-researched business plan. Industry analysts believe that thorough business plans play a critical role in ensuring that a company becomes an ideal candidate for lending. By integrating the elements of financial projections, economic forecasts, product marketing, organisational overview, target market and expected sales revenue, a business plan depicts the entrepreneur’s confidence in the success of a venture.

With the launch of several industrial initiatives across Sub-Saharan Africa that have extended to the fields of technology, healthcare, construction and social development, amongst many others, the entrepreneurial conditions in the region are indeed promising. This provides the ideal opportunity for prospective speculators in South Africa to learn the tools required to drive a manufacturing venture towards the path of success. As the government aims to establish a positive and welcoming climate to stimulate investment in South African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs), a number of funding options have become available to kick-start potential projects.

Apart from government institutions and financing bodies, private investors who are optimistic about the economic growth of the region are willing to extend their capital to South African business ventures with the potential to provide a superior return on investment. While these investors will secure a portion of the profits generated by the company as a reward for their investment, a business has a better chance of obtaining substantial funding through this option without any additional borrowing costs. As Sub-Saharan Africa propels itself towards a promising economic future, small manufacturing businesses can benefit by applying effective strategies and ideas to grow the scale of their operations.

The Small Business Indaba will serve as an excellent liaison and business networking opportunity for the small manufacturer, manufacturing stakeholders and SMME leaders and entrepreneurs to advise potential manufacturing business owners on definitive strategies to advance the development of their business.

– Issued by: Siyenza Management

Mr Monale Ratsoma appointed as the new NDB ARC Director-General

National Treasury’s Deputy Director-General (DDG) for Economic Policy, Mr Monale Ratsoma, has been appointed the Director-General of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) Africa Regional Centre(ARC). The appointment is effective from 16 April 2018. Mr Ratsoma’s role will be managing the bank’s African regional operations and leading the bank’s African efforts in project preparation, project implementation and regional portfolio management. The role also entails collaborating with well-established infrastructure and sustainable development entities and representative offices of multilateral and regional development banks.

The BRICS NDB is a key stakeholder in the efforts of the South African government in mobilising and leveraging financing resources for infrastructure development.

Mr Ratsoma joined the National Treasury in 2011 as Chief Director: Liability Management. He was later appointed as Deputy Director-General: Economic Policy in 2015 and in 2016 was given an additional responsibility to act as a DDG for International and Regional Economic Policy unit until March 2018.

Director-General Dondo Mogajane wishes Mr Ratsoma well in his new endeavour and committed to provide him all the necessary support to ensure that the vision of the NDB in South Africa and the rest of the continent is realised.
Dr Duncan Pieterse will be the acting DDG from the 16th of April until the position is filled. Dr Pieterse is the Chief Director of Microeconomic Policy at the National Treasury. He joined National Treasury in September 2013 as a Director: Microeconomic Policy and was appointed Chief Director: Microeconomic Policy in April 2017.

Dr Pieterse holds PhD, Masters and Bachelor of Business Science degrees in Economics from the University of Cape Town where he has taught on a part-time basis. Before joining the National Treasury, he was a visiting research fellow at Brown and Yale Universities, a consultant on public expenditure management for local and provincial government and also worked as a project manager on various economic development projects in Southern Africa.

Issued by National Treasury

[WATCH] Selection and election: How China chooses its leaders

China has developed a unique system of choosing its leaders, eschewing Western models for a process based on merit and broad support. Scholar Zhang Weiwei argues that while the system of “selection and election” is not perfect, it is a match for alternative models and has delivered for the Chinese people.

Copy & video: China Global Television Network



SA ranks 2/115 in the 2017 Open Budget Survey

South Africa ranks 2 out of 115 nations, making the country the second most transparent system after New Zealand,
and leading Sweden and Norway that rank at 3rd and 4th respectively.

The Open Budget Survey (OBS) is the world’s only comparative and independent assessment of fiscal transparency, oversight, and participation at the national level. The survey is carried out by independent researchers who respond to a set of factual questions in each of the 115 countries assessed. Each country’s results are then reviewed by an anonymous expert, and governments are also given an opportunity to provide their comments.

The survey examines formal participation in the budget process at the national level. The 2017 OBS also assessed the core institutions of representative democracies by evaluating novel approaches to formal public participation in budgeting.

Brand South Africa’s CEO, Dr Kingsley Makhubela said: “Transparency is an important aspect of good governance, and transparent decision making is critical for the public sector to make sound decisions and investments, while also attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country.

“Transparency creates an environment for effective decision-making. The most frequently cited argument for transparency is information should be accessible to enable citizens to actively participate in policymaking and hold leaders accountable for their decisions, and ultimately influence which decisions are taken and why. At a more basic level, transparency is critical for decision-makers, as it assists them to formulate policy, improve service provision, and manage resources responsibly.”

The OBS 2017 report states that ‘Sub-Saharan Africa showed the largest decline in transparency in this round, yet the region drove much of the improvement in transparency in the 2015 survey.’ It also notes that ‘this recent decline in transparency overall is significantly less than the gains found in previous rounds of the survey; which means that government budgets are still considerably more transparent today than they were a decade ago.’

Follow the conversation on #CompetitiveSA

Copy: Brand South Africa

Russia – SA celebrates 1 year of visa-free travelling

It’s been one year of visa-free travelling for South Africans and Russians.

On 1 April 2017, South African and Russian governments officially introduced visa-free travel for their citizens to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This of course, only applies to the visitor’s visa and not intent to study, work or live in the other country.

Seventy two days from now, Russia will be hosting the Fifa World Cup 2018, so visa-traveling has a made it easy and more cost-effective for South Africans to plan their trip it a lot easier for South Africans to plan a trip without the concerns of incurring visa costs as an added hassle.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently reiterated the importance of the South Africa’s relations with members of BRICS, and upon speaking to Russian President Vladmir Putin, shared his excitement over the upcoming BRICS Summit, to be hosted by SA in July this year.

A statement released by the Presidency reads:
“President Ramaphosa said Russia remained an important partner to South Africa and Africa at large, as evidenced by its support for countries of the South in multilateral fora and associations such as BRICS. President Putin reciprocated by congratulating President Ramaphosa on his assumption of the Presidency and said the Russian Federation stood ready to deepen bilateral relations, notably in the economic terrain.”

“President Ramaphosa looks forward to hosting President Putin at the BRICS Summit in July, which will signify the beginning of the second decade of cooperation among this group of emerging markets which have a range of developmental advances and challenges in common.”

China to lighten the tax burden on individuals and businesses

China has vowed to cut the value-added tax rate on various sectors as of May 2018. The sectors affected include manufacturing, transportation, construction, telecommunication and agricultural sectors.

The motivation behind this decision is to lighten the tax burden on individuals and businesses. The government is also looking to boost domestic demand in a year of economic growth that slowed down in 2017.

According to Reuters, China’s State Council said VAT cutd are expected to save 240 billion yuan ($38 billion) in taxes this year.

Earlier this month, Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the tax cuts for the manufacturing and transportation. The tax rate cut for the manufacturing sector will lower to 16% from 17%, while the rate for other industries will be cut to 10% from 11%.

The findings from Goldman Sachs research indicated that the tax cut is a positive move. “However, the magnitude of the cut is relatively small and is already factored into the official fiscal budget.”

The research also stated that the coming weeks will reveal details of other tax cut measures.

Source: Reuters