With less than 10 days before the Olympics kick off, South Africa is gearing up to host Ekhaya (which means 'home' in isiXhosa/isiZulu) - an exhibition and hospitality centre serving as a home away from home for South Africans, athletes and guests at the 2012 global sporting showpiece.
"This is an opportunity for South Africa to sell itself and its offerings in terms of business, tourism, sport, arts and culture... [It is] also to say as a country, we are open to do business with the world," said the minister.
The integrated approach of Ekhaya will help to profile South Africa as a formidable player in the global arena, particularly after the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ekhaya will offer a variety of events such as South Africa's heritage, tourism, arts and culture including fashion shows, musical performances, provincial exhibitions, as well as premier South African brands operating in the United Kingdom.
Top South African Olympians will also make an appearance at Ekhaya during the Olympic Games scheduled to take place from 25 July - 12 August, which will be followed by the Paralympic Games from 29 August - 9 September 2012.
Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) initiated the Ekhaya concept at the 2000 Commonwealth Games, with the aim of promoting South Africa and providing a support centre for South African athletes.
Other opportunities offered by Ekhaya include:
* drumming up support for Team SA;
* marketing and promoting South Africa through showcasing its successes and venues, such as stadia, as the preferred places to host international events;
* inspiring people to visit South Africa and experience the culture of ubuntu from South Africans;
* giving South Africans, who will be in London, a home away home experience as they will be afforded an opportunity to network within a South African environment; and
* hosting journalists, the business and sports sectors (both local and foreign) with the intention of profiling South African athletes, political principals and the country.
Ekhaya will be situated on the South Bank of the Thames River, not far from Trafalgar Square in London and will be operational daily from 8am during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The venue is large and accessible. It caters for the needs of those who wish to do business and facilitate networking opportunities in an environment that exudes a South African identity.
Ekhaya exhibition partners include Brand South Africa, and the provincial Departments of Arts and Culture of KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Free State.