Photo: @PresidencyZA / TW
Photo: @PresidencyZA / TW
President Cyril Ramaphosa led the opening ceremony of the second Investment Conference, on Wednesday.
The Investment Conference is taking place for the second time since it was launched in 2018. All the more convenient for his ambitions is that the conference returned to South Africa around the same time the Springboks touched down on home soil with the Webb Ellis trophy.
Sure enough, Ramaphosa welcomed all delegates at the Sandton Convention Centre to “the home of the champions of world rugby.”
After a few chuckles, the president got right to business.
Ramaphosa noted that the Thuma Mina campaign was founded on his objective to raise $100-million (R1.2-trillion) in five years. This capital injection would go a long way to “addressing low economic growth and reducing unemployment.”
In the inaugural Investment Conference, in 2018, local and international investors pledged to inject as much as R300-billion into South Africa’s economy.
According to Ramaphosa, this translated into 31 projects that would boost the economy and create job opportunities.
At this time, eight projects have been completed and 17 more are in construction, or at the implementation stage.
“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,” Ramaphosa said.
The good does not come without the bad and the president conceded to the challenges South Africa still faces. The country’s unemployment rate sits at a 10-year record high of 29.0% and there are still insurmountable barriers of entry into the economy.
“Over the last decade, our economy has barely grown, investment has dwindled and the rate of unemployment has 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.
“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. 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,” he said.
Ramaphosa asserted that the road to recovering South Africa’s economy is paved by mending and rebuilding trust with foreign investors, many of which were present at the investment conference.
This, he said, will only happen if the government cleans up its act. He further noted that the outcome of this year’s investment conference is contained in an investment booklet that has been handed out to delegates which includes “potential investment opportunities [that] exist in every part of our country.”
“Today will see the signing of agreements to set up business councils with Japan, following my discussions with Prime Minister Abe a few months ago, and with the United States business community.
“There can be no better time to invest in this dynamic, growing economy than now. I look forward to several companies making pledges today to invest in South Africa, by setting up greenfield operations or expanding their existing businesses,” he said.