Tata investment in Africa is worth billions

September 19th, 2008 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Durban, Sep 19 (IANS) As one of the first Indian companies to enter Africa almost six decades ago, the Tata Group, through its affiliate Tata Africa, now has a presence in 11 countries, with investments there worth billions of rands. Tata Africa Managing Director Raman Dhawan was speaking at a gathering where the first Tata scholarships for post graduate students of the University of KwaZulu Natal were made here Thursday.

“The Tata Group’s historical connection with Africa dates back to 1909 when Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation, also called on the support of the Passive Resistance Movement against (what would later be called) apartheid in South Africa. And Tata got actively involved at that time,” Dhawan said.

Emphasising the importance of honesty, integrity and transparency to the students, Dhawan explained these basic principles of the Tata Group: “The Tata Group is one of very few that has managed to successfully traverse three centuries in its 140-year existence because the founders used a very simple but forward-looking concept - what comes from the people must go back.

“In Tata Sons, which is the apex body of the group, 66 percent of the profits go into philanthropy and therefore there are many social institutions and other organisations such as the Tata Memorial Hospital, recognised as one of the leading cancer research institute sin the world.”

Dhawan summed up Tata’s diverse interests in South Africa: “We obviously could not invest in South Africa (because of apartheid isolation), and our operations in South Africa started only about 13 years ago. During that period the group has engaged in various activities.

“We are a very diversified group, so currently what we have in South Africa is automobiles - we make bus bodies in Johannesburg and we are looking to assemble vehicles as well.

“One of the largest investments of Tata in South Africa is in your province - the ferrochrome smelter in Richards Bay that makes 130 tons of ferrochrome.”

Dhawan mentioned the current huge activity in the telecoms sector by the second national fixed line licensee, Neotel, in which Tata has a major stake; as well as Tata Consultancy Services, “one of the jewels in the Tata group”, which is also operating in the IT sector South Africa and the rest of the continent.

“We are also now constructing two hotels - the first one has started in Cape Town and the second one will be in Johannesburg.

In fact we also tried to build a hotel in Durban, but due to some issues we could not start that, but we will come back as and when those issues are resolved. We look forward to be back here in Durban to build that hotel.”

Dhawan said the total investment by Tata in South Africa, when all the projects are completed, should be about 10 billion rands.

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