SA is ready for a bountiful harvest as investor confidence grows

President Cyril Ramaphosa during South Africa's three-day investment drive. Picture: Supplied/ GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa during South Africa's three-day investment drive. Picture: Supplied/ GCIS

The second South Africa investment conference attracted commitments worth R363 billion. These will go a long way in injecting economic growth and creating the jobs we need.

The spirit of hope and renewal that has reverberated across our country over the past 18 months continues to yield tangible results.

It has attracted local and foreign investors to consider the country as their next investment destination.

This is reflected in the outcome of the second SA Investment Conference which received 24% more investment commitments than the last one.

Investors announced a total of R363 billion in commitments with a further R8 billion subject to either regulatory or company board approvals.

These commitments are again an indication from investors that South Africa provides lucrative opportunities and green shoots across many sectors of the economy.

Significant to note is the confidence shown by the South African-based companies which pledged the expansion of their local footprint.

The investment tally is even more impressive given that investors have a vast array of choices of where to take their business.

It shows that South Africa is competing head to head with other emerging markets.

The majority of the pledges came from domestic companies while foreign investors made up almost 31% of the total commitments.

Importantly, the contribution towards Greenfield Projects - projects in the country that are built from scratch - was almost 9.5% higher compared to last year.

The overwhelming response by investors and multinational companies to attend the conference is in itself an indication of the growing interest in investing in our economy.

There were 2 000 participants at this year’s conference, 450 from outside South Africa.

The keen interest in the country and growing investment commitments signals strong confidence in the measures that are being implemented by government to restore credibility, stabilise finances and improve the operational performance and governance at state owned companies.

Moreover, government has introduced measures to reduce the financial costs of doing business which includes lower port and rail tariffs.

We have demonstrated to the nation, foreign investors and international ratings agencies that we are committed to managing the economy in a balanced and responsible manner.

There is progress towards the finalisation of the Mining Charter and the draft Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which will guide development in the country’s oil and gas sector. They both will soon be tabled in Cabinet for approval.

Government has also set aside R100 billion over 10 years for a National Infrastructure Fund and will be working with private investors and international financial institutions to leverage further finance for infrastructure.

To attract more tourists and highly skilled professionals, government this year issued a list of countries that will receive visa waivers.

Importantly, a process is underway to finalise refining a list of critical skills that will inform future regulations and ensure that we attract skilled people who will help us grow the country.

Our country is immensely encouraged by the commitments made at the second SA Investment Conference as these investments boost economic growth and create much needed jobs.

Conservative estimates are that the investments will create around 412 000 direct jobs over the next five years.

This does not include the hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs that will be created through allied linkages to these investments.

While there is still much to do to change our economic trajectory, as South Africans there is every reason for us to remain confident in our prospects. We remain confident that as these investments begin to filter into the larger economy, the economic growth picture will look very different moving forward.

Our confidence is also rooted in the overwhelming move towards positive change that has begun in our nation.

Inspired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, we find a new hope echoing across our nation.

The president called it a “new era” in which we confront our challenges and accelerate progress in building a prosperous society.

This “new era” has sparked a new sense of renewal and revival within our country.

We need all sectors of our society to come together to harness the many positive changes and interventions that are taking place.

Our nation truly stands on the cusp of a bountiful harvest and the collective strength of business, labour and government can help us achieve this.

Williams is deputy director-general of the Government Communication and Information System

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July 2020

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