R54.8 billion. That’s the amount in investment pledges announced at the first session of the second annual South African Investment Conference.
The conference, being held at the Sandton Convention Centre this week, forms an important part of the state’s attempts to kickstart the flailing economy, and provides a platform to showcase new investment opportunities.
- A German pharmaceutical company, B-Braun – which is set to establish a new factory in South Africa early next year, at a cost of R300 million;
- Sappi, which also pledged an investment last year and announced another investment of R14 billion across all its plants in the country; and
- Discovery, which announced an investment of R1.4 billion for its Discovery Bank.
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa also announced a R10 billion, 10-year, automotive industry transformation fund and Toyota announced that it would be pumping in an additional R2.4 billion in the economy at its Durban plant.
Roelf Meyer, one of the champions of the government’s public-private growth initiative, also took to the podium and announced a R12 billion, five-year, 52-project agriculture initiative, which he said would result in massive employment in the sector.
Other pledges came to R750 million and the Brics bank – the New Development Bank – also pledged to loan R23 billion to projects in specified sectors until next year.
State-owned entity Transnet also pledged R23 billion over the next few years to support various sectors through its rail infrastructure mandate and MTN pledged to spend R1 billion a year for the next decade in its capital budget.
Several other businesses committed to investments amounting to almost R4 billion while other state-owned entities such as Sanral and Airport Company South Africa (Acsa) also pledged to spend billions according to their respective mandates.
President Cyril Ramaphosa told potential investors that the government was well on course to achieving it’s target of attracting R1.2 trillion over five years.
Ramaphosa, delivering the opening address on Wednesday morning, said the target announced during last year’s conference would be reached, and more investors were expected to raise their hands to pledge more investments this year to take advantage of the vast opportunities available across the country.
At the inaugural conference last year, investors pledged almost R300 billion and Ramaphosa said he was happy that those investment are “busy materialising”.
The president also gave an update of the pledges announced in that inaugural conference.
“Of the 31 projects announced last year eight projects have been realised and completed. Seventeen are in construction or at implementation stage. In total, this represents R238 billion of the investments that were announced last year. This is a phenomenal achievement by those who stood here to announce those investments. It is gratifying to see the commitments that were made at this conference last year materialising in the form of new factories, new production lines, new products, new services and new jobs,” he said.
Ramaphosa also said that the country’s economy had barely grown over the last decade and the investment has also taken a knock and unemployment had increased.
“Today, we are still feeling the effects of several years of state capture and corruption, the erosion of important public institutions and the resultant policy malaise,” he said.
But, even in the face of such great challenges, hope continues to spring eternal in the hearts of South Africans who are determined that they will not yield to despair.
Ramaphosa added: “As a nation, we have determined that we will not be defeated by challenges we face. We will not falter on our path to improve the condition of our people.”