R300bn investment did not make much change in SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his keynote address at the SA Investment Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on October 26. Picture: Elmond Jiyane (GCIS)
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his keynote address at the SA Investment Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on October 26. Picture: Elmond Jiyane (GCIS)

In the run-up to South Africa’s second investment conference, much has been said about the R300 billion worth of investment promises made at the first conference and the extent to which they have materialised.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said earlier last year he wanted to attract R1.2 trillion in new investment to the country in the next five years to get the economy up and running.

But more business leaders, analysts and economists say South Africa appears to have lost the momentum that followed Ramaphosa’s taking office.


During the mid-term budget policy statement last week, South Africans were told the economy would grow by only 0.5% this year, much lower than the 1.5% figure mentioned in February.

Growth also isn’t likely to recover any time soon and is expected to pick up only slightly to 1.7% by 2022.

The second investment conference will be held from Tuesday to Thursday in Sandton, with a theme focusing on faster economic growth through building alliances.

The government said R254 billion of the investment that was promised last year was already in the implementation phase by August and another R35 billion had been announced.

But analysts said much of this investment might consist of expansion and maintenance that companies would have done in any event and is therefore not necessarily new investment.

  • Last week, the coal mining group Exxaro showed its new Belfast coal mine to the media, an investment of about R3.3 billion. The mine is known as the first of its type when it comes to a digitally integrated approach to mining. Data about various aspects of mining activities and throughout the value chain will be available while mining takes place. This allows problems to be identified and solved quickly, said Lazarus Ramashilabele, business unit manager at the Belfast mine.

The digitisation process includes portable devices for every worker, which will make it easier to locate mine workers in danger.

The mine manager will know how many mine workers are in high-risk areas at all times.

Ramashilabele said it gives them a big advantage that digitisation is part of the mine from the get-go, as opposed to mines that have to incorporate it into existing activities.


Pleasure Mnisi, manager of business optimisation at Exxaro, said the digitisation would put the mining group in a position to maximise its yield, because any leak in the value chain could be plugged as soon as it happens.

The group is eyeing an improvement of 25% in productivity through digitisation and innovation.

The Belfast coal mine, which will annually produce about 2.7 million tons of high-grade coal for the export market, produced its first coal about two months ago, six months earlier than expected, said Ramashilabele.

Belfast Coal, which has been on the drawing board for 20 years, is part of the R20 billion investment that Exxaro is planning in the period leading up to 2023.

  • On Friday Procter & Gamble officially opened its South African factory in Kempton Park. The factory will produce Always sanitary products.

The company said that in addition to bringing its latest innovation and technology to South Africa, it shows the company’s support for the government’s National Development Plan and Ramaphosa’s investment drive. The value of the investment is reportedly about R300 million.

  • Early in October, Toyota SA Motors revealed upgrades to its plant in Durban where the Hiace Ses’fikile minibus taxi is manufactured. About R500 billion has been spent on the upgrades.

Ebrahim Patel, the minister of trade, industry and competition, said during the opening that the upgrades were the practical implementation of Toyota’s investment promises during last year’s investment conference.

He said since Toyota had begun its localisation programme, more than 80 000 taxis had been manufactured locally by Toyota and another smaller manufacturer.

  • Ramaphosa was in Durban in mid-October for the official opening of the Mara group’s factory in South Africa, where it will manufacture Africa’s own smartphone.

The group, which also has a manufacturing plant in Rwanda, wants to manufacture 1.2 million smartphones annually and plans two models.

It is expected to create 1 500 job opportunities. The factory is also a result of last year’s investment conference.

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