(AGI) Cape Town, Oct 2 - Foreign companies "are welcome inSouth Africa, provided they enable small local businesses toparticipate in their value chain", said the country's SmallBusiness Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, at the SouthAfrica-Italy Summit in Cape Town. "The Italian collaborativemodel of creating technology and production clusters, whichincrease volume and quality through local integration of smalland medium-sized enterprises in the supply chain, is exactlywhat the country needs," she said. "South Africa is full ofsmall and large companies that do not work together. We mustchange this situation and the cluster model is a step in theright direction not only in the car industry, but also ininformation technology and renewable energy. ... We need tolearn from each other. The more we learn the more we are ableto innovate and the more we innovate the more we can attractforeign investment." Paolo Olivero, head of the SouthAfrican office of the CLN-Ma, an Italian group in the carindustry, said the cluster model could be applied as a pilotproject starting with cars, which are a cornerstone of SouthAfrican and Italian industry, worth respectively 7.2 percentand 5.1 percent of GDP. "This is the only way that South Africawould be able to reach its ambitious target of manufacturing1.2 million cars a year by 2020," he said. Cooperation betweenItaly and South Africa would allow then to exploit theopportunities offered by the development of sub-Saharan Africa,he went on. "We are looking for partners to grow abroad and toposition ourselves and accelerate our entry into Africanmarkets. Brand Italy has an excellent reputation, especially incertain areas, and it complements South Africa in terms ofproduct, size of companies and technological specialisation,"Mr Olivero went on. Italy could make available its extensiveexperience in the different stages of car production: inplanning services, engineering and design, in the intermediatestages and finally in production, assembly and distribution. . .