Ramaphosa aims to salvage investment promises as Covid-19 affects commitments

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President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the keynote address at the South Africa Investment Conference 2018 held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the keynote address at the South Africa Investment Conference 2018 held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

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Over the last 10 months, the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic forced many promising investments pledged at the government’s previous investment conferences to be scaled back or put on hold. But these investments only amount to about one-tenth of the total investment commitment of R664 billion. The focus now is implementation.

This week sees the third South Africa Investment Conference being held in an attempt to showcase the country’s strengths and how these can be leveraged to attract new investment.

In April 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an ambitious drive to secure R1.2 trillion in additional investments over the next five years.

In his newsletter to the nation on Monday morning, Ramaphosa said that, of the 102 projects that were announced at the last two investment conferences, 12 are in the early stages of implementation, 19 have been launched, and 44 are currently under construction or being rolled out.

“This year’s conference is about implementation, and on turning commitments into brick and mortar projects in our cities and towns,” Ramaphosa said.

This week sees the third South Africa Investment Conference being held in an attempt to showcase the country’s strengths and how these can be leveraged to attract new investment

“It will highlight our progress in driving the economic reforms that are needed to unlock investment and growth.”

Ramaphosa said that the establishment of the infrastructure fund would have boosted investor confidence, as with the continuing implementation of the structural reforms and the finalisation of industry master plans in sectors such as clothing and textiles, sugar and the automotive industry.

He said South Africa would be showcasing its strengths and how these can be leveraged to attract new investment.

Some of these are:

• South Africa has been voted the second most attractive location for business process outsourcing for the third year in a row. With business continuity having been disrupted by the pandemic, South Africa is perfectly placed to capitalise on the growing need of businesses for remote contact centres, Ramaphosa said

• The country is positioning itself as a hub for digital services. Following the commitment that Amazon Web Services made at last year’s investment conference, the company opened its first cloud data centre in Africa, in Cape Town, earlier this year.

• South Africa is already a preferred energy investment destination. Many of the projects implemented through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme have been successful and set an example for many countries around the world, Ramaphosa said.

• With the African Continental Free Trade Area commencing in January, South Africa wanted to attract more continental investors and at the same time expand its own investments and the market for our its goods and services elsewhere on the continent. Already, more than a quarter of South Africa’s exports are to other countries in Africa. Ramaphosa expected this to increase as the free trade area established a continental market of about 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of around $2.3 trillion.

“We are not the only country trying to attract investment as part of its economic recovery efforts in the aftermath of Covid-19. This makes our task much harder,” he said.

“To achieve our goal, we have to work together as government, business, labour and all of society to ensure that the seeds of local and international investment land on fertile soil.

Our national objective is that the investments we secure at the third South Africa Investment Conference must lead to more jobs and improved living standards, and ultimately build the highway that leads to a better, more inclusive future for all.”

A difference conference

Given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s conference will be held in a vastly different environment than last year.

In previous years, more than 1,500 delegates attended the South African Investment Conferences. But this year, to allow for social distancing, about 175 delegates will attend in person from listed companies, emerging firms and entrepreneurs, business associations, labour and government. An additional 1,000 online delegates from different parts of the world have registered to date.


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