From education to land reform to cutting out the red tape, President Cyril Ramaphosa took to charming investors at the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference in Johannesburg on Friday. Here are his top 10 quotes:
1. On Discord and Uncertainty
"[This Conference] is a bold and unequivocal statement that we are determined to put behind us the period of uncertainty and discord and embrace a future of cooperation and partnership. We are here to declare that we are determined to build a country that is driven by enterprise and innovation, to develop an economy that is diverse and resilient and prosperous, and to create companies that achieve sustained returns not only for their shareholders, but also for the workers that drive them and the communities that support them."
2. On Commissions of Inquiry
"As a country, we have also had to confront the bitter reality that several public entities have been severely affected by corruption and the phenomenon of state capture. One of the urgent measures we have had to take is to end such corruption and hold those responsible to account. We have established a commission of inquiry into state capture that has begun a thorough and far reaching investigation into these practices. We have also established commissions of inquiry into the South African Revenue Service and the Public Investment Corporation, institutions that are both vital to the effective functioning of our economy.
"We are certain that these commissions will not only unearth all instances of malfeasance and governance failures, but will help to restore the integrity, credibility and effectiveness of these entities."
3. On being a Country with Riches
"We are a country that is rich in ways that we often do not appreciate. There are few places in the world that have the abundance of minerals that lie beneath the ground on which we now stand, that have the soil to sustain such a diversity of plants, crops, livestock and game, where the sun shines nearly all year around and where the golden beaches stretch on forever. We have an incredible natural inheritance, whose economic and social value we have not yet even begun to effectively explore."
4. On Investment Opportunities
"Today, a number of local and international companies will make announcements on investments to expand existing operations in the country or establish new ones. In addition to the announcements that will be made at this conference we have received investment pledges from a number of countries. We have appointed task teams to work with these countries to convert these pledges into investments.
"We have emphasised the need for ore South African companies to lead the investment charge, demonstrating that they have confidence in this economy and in its ability to deliver decent and reliable returns."
5. On Red Tape
"Following thoroughgoing consultations with various role players in our economy, we have been addressing issues of policy uncertainty and regulatory obstacles that have impeded investments in a number of industries. We have been working with the World Bank to improve the ease of doing business in South Africa and crafting a new FDI strategy for the country. Invest SA is intensifying its facilitation and aftercare service in terms of international best practice.
"Together we are working to fast track investment projects and reduce red tape."
6. On State-Owned Enterprises
"As part of the decisive measures that we have had to take, we have had to confront challenges in some of our largest and most strategic state owned enterprises, which have experienced years of poor governance, a decline in financial and operational performance and corruption. Given the crucial role of these state owned enterprises in the economy, as providers of critical infrastructure and bulk services, it is essential that they be restored as engines of growth and development. We have replaced the leadership in several state owned enterprises, ensuring that we have people with experience, integrity and the relevant skills who are now leading the development and implementation of sustainable business models."
7. On the Mid-Term Budget Speech
"As the Minister of Finance indicated when presenting his medium-term budget policy statement earlier in the week, we are determined to ensure public spending remains within sustainable levels – and that we generate greater revenue by pursuing growth with a single-minded determination. We see infrastructure investment as a critical enabler of growth and job creation, and are therefore consolidating government infrastructure spending into a single Infrastructure Fund.
"We intend to use that Fund to leverage investments from development finance institutions, multilateral development banks, asset managers and commercial banks. A dedicated team will oversee the implementation of an extensive infrastructure programme covering areas like water, transport, energy, telecommunications and social infrastructure."
8. On Education
"In addition, we are intensifying work to build a robust and effective education and skills development system that equips our youth for the workplace of tomorrow. It is important to note that seven of South Africa’s universities are in top 500 in the world. There are nearly a million students in higher education, and there has been a marked increase in science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates. We have implemented policies to promote black economic empowerment, to provide black people, women and people with disability with the assets and opportunities they need to participate more meaningfully in economic activity."
9. On Land Reform
"Another area that is critical to economic transformation is land reform, which is currently a focus of intense debate across South African society. There is general agreement among most South Africans that we need to accelerate land reform not only to redress a historical injustice, but also to effectively unlock the economic potential of the country’s land. We have appointed an Advisory Panel on Land Reform, which comprises people with extensive experience in farming, policy development, academia and law. The panel will advise government on the implementation of a fair and equitable land reform process that redresses the injustices of the past, increases agricultural output, promotes economic growth and protects food security.
"We are committed, as government to pursue a comprehensive approach to land and agrarian reform that ensures transformation, development and stability, while providing certainty to those who own land, to those who need land and to those who are considering investing in the economy. Our approach reaffirms the constitutional protection of property rights, which, among other things, prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of property. Together with robust legislation to protect foreign investments, an independent judiciary and the firm rule of law, our Constitution should allay any fears that investors may have of factories being expropriated."
10. On Dispossession and Jobs
"Given our country’s history of dispossession, and the continued economic exclusion of millions of our people, we have a responsibility to bring all our people into the economic mainstream. Earlier this month, we convened a Presidential Jobs Summit, which brought together government, business, labour and the community sector to determine a set of practical, achievable interventions that would increase the pace of job creation.
"The Jobs Summit agreed on more than 70 focused interventions that will, among other things, boost domestic demand, increase and broaden exports, create pathways for young people into work and develop sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining and the waste economy."
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