Ramaphosa slams policy uncertainty, praises African Free Trade area at investment forum

There is an urgent need to resolve problems that keep investors away from Africa, and address governance challenges such as policy uncertainty and corruption, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday. 

"As African leaders, we must demonstrate a firm commitment to act against corruption, both within public institutions and the private sector. We must deal with burdensome red tape, provide policy and regulatory certainty, and strengthen our financial institutions," he said. 

He was addressing delegates at the opening plenary of the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum at the Sandton Convention Centre. 

Delegates at the three-day investment forum include 20 heads of foreign states and several CEOs of top companies. It is aiming to attract investors, and and unlock investment opportunities on the continent.

Ramaphosa said that, in order to achieve large scale and meaningful investments, there should first be policy and regulatory certainty.

"African governments cannot do this without business," said the president. "The private sector and private markets are key players in the African investment landscape, supported by the lending capacity of financial institutions, both on the continent and beyond.
"If we are to unlock and sustain the flow of capital to Africa, we need to drive the economic reforms necessary to create an enabling business environment.
"To be globally competitive, to become investment destinations of choice, we need to resolve the problems that keep investors away. We have to address governance challenges such as policy uncertainty, financial mismanagement and corruption."

He also praised the adoption of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement in March as a "historic development that has the potential to fundamentally change African economies".
"The expansion of intra-African trade through the Continental Free Trade Area will contribute to better policy harmonisation and trade liberalisation and facilitation regimes," he said. 

SA on an Investment drive

The Investment Forum comes after Ramaphosa hosted a South African Investment conference in October, where companies pledged to invest some R290bn.

Earlier in the year the president announced a drive to raise $100bn of new investment in South Africa over the next five years to kick-start South Africa's stalling economy. 

On Thursday the president said these type of investments in South Africa offered opportunities to investors to do business with the rest of the continent, and to create a new market for new services which would eventually be rendered by foreign companies.

"Any investment in South Africa is an investment in Africa," he said. "We firmly believe that the growth of any one African economy presents opportunities for its neighbours – creating new markets for goods and services, increasing trade opportunities and expanding potential for intra-African investment."

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