Dear friends, colleagues and business partners,
After 8 years at the helm of the Austrian Trade Commission for Southern Africa, it is time for me to bid you all farewell. I wish I could have done so in person. Nevertheless, allow me to thank you for every collaboration, support and kindness. Even if the past months turned out quite different to what I had expected, it does not change the fact that my time in Johannesburg has been a thrilling professional experience.
It has been my privilege to support Austrian businesses in southern Africa. Be it a hydropower plant in Angola or a district clinic in Mozambique, the contribution of Austrian companies to crucial infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa improves the lives of many.
Projects like these motivate me, and the team at Advantage Austria, to go the extra mile. I am grateful to each one of them for doing just that over-and-over again.
Let´s look back at some of the highlights we have achieved together: In 2016, we welcomed one of the largest business delegations from Austria to South Africa and in the company of very special guests celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Austrian Trade Commission in Johannesburg.
Two years later, we hosted the first ever Austria Connect conference in Africa where valuable experiences of success in African markets were shared and links between Austrian businesses on the continent strengthened.
During the Cape Town water shortage crisis, we invited brought innovative companies from Austria and South Africa together to work on sustainable solutions and promote efficient water-use in especially agriculture. Following on from that event, we have introduced more Austrian businesses to the vibrant and innovative tech startup ecosystems in Johannesburg and Cape Town over the last year.
We celebrated Austrian Airlines opening a direct flight route between Vienna and Cape Town. I certainly look forward to see these flights resume so that they can continue the important connection between our two countries.
None of this would have been possible without my fantastic team and your support. Thank you to each and everyone of you, for being part of this amazing journey!
While I head on to Vienna, my successor, Martin Meischl, has previous experience in South Africa and the region and is perfectly placed to take our work to the next level when the economy rebounds in 2021.
My journey at our head office in Austria continues with a shift towards Asia. From August onwards I will be the Regional Manager for Asia & the Pacific – a fascinating task and one I look forward to. If your travels bring you to Vienna, do pay me a visit.
Even while my professional responsibilities shift away from Africa. South Africa and its wonderful people will remain a special place for my family and me, and we shall certainly be back.
Goodbye for now, and good wishes until we see you again!
Honorary Vice Chairman, Austrian Business Chamber