Alibaba founder and tech billionaire Jack Ma will deliver a keynote address at the upcoming investment summit in Johannesburg next week, as President Cyril Ramaphosa seeks to attract billions in new investments to kickstart SA's lagging economy.
Government will gather investors from around the world in Sandton, Johannesburg from Thursday to Saturday next week for its investment summit, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel said in a briefing on Thursday morning.
Patel was talking to reporters in Cape Town about the summit, first announced by the president during his inaugural State of The Nation Address in February.
The investment summit is one of a number of interventions that Ramaphosa hopes will lift the lacklustre performance of the South African economy.
In April, Ramaphosa announced that SA would seek to attract $100bn in new local and international investment over the next five years. In September he announced a stimulus package of economic reforms and spending plans.
Earlier in October, Ramaphosa held a Jobs Summit, which wrapped up with a commitment from representatives present to preserve jobs and chip in to supporting job creation by supporting local goods and services.
Patel said the conference should be understood in the broader context of government’s interventions as an exercise in understanding challenges investors experience in approaching SA, as well as providing a single message from government on investment readiness.
"Shortly after the conference, we will have investors from around the world to an Africa summit (further down the line) to discuss trade and how to boost trade. All of this is part of working in a different way. The conference will feature 20 activities and working sessions," said Patel.
Patel said the delegation at the summit included 50 investors in key sectors. He said investors would speak and lead discussions as well as provide a series of investment announcements, MOU signings and investor commitments.
"The sectors we have chosen are a critical part of the South African economy. We will have agro-processing, manufacturing, mining, energy, water, tourism, ICT and a working session of venture capital and entrepreneurship to unlock enterprises in townships," Patel said.
Ramaphosa's special economic advisor Trudi Makhaya said government would not approach the issue of investment, employment and growth in silos, but would make sure the job summit’s outcomes found expression in the investors summit.
"This is linked to all other initiatives of government, including the jobs summit. We need to re-engage the global investment community and reaffirm ourselves as the springboard for investment into Africa," said Makhaya.
Patel said anything between 800-1 000 delegates were expected, with two-thirds of delegates being local business. Local business will include Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed companies with market capitalisation of R6.5trn, represented by CEOs and board chairs.
Fund management community representatives will also be present, with an estimated R7.7trn in assets under management. Black industrialists are further expected, along with 27 Fortune 500 international companies with $4trn market capitalisation.
Three of China’s top four banks will also be at the summit.
Ma - who announced in September that he would be stepping down from the Chinese e-commerce giant - was in SA for Alibaba's Netpreneurs: The Rise of Africa's Digital Lion's conference in August. He met with Ramaphosa and discussed investment in SA, among other things, Business Insider SA previously reported.
Econet entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa will also be attending the summit. Other multinational companies expected to be at the summit include Airbus, Nestle, Hauwei, General Electric, Siemens and Johnson & Johnson.