South Africa’s gamble to hold an investment conference during a global pandemic and sell the country as an entry point for a unified African market has paid off.
A total of R109.6-billion in new pledges was secured during the country’s third annual investment conference this week. The two-day meeting is part of an investment drive started in 2018 to raise R1.2-trillion over five years
“This is a whoppingly huge number… we thought it would be much lower,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the close of conference in Sandton this week.
The new figure means that since 2018, the country has secured R773.6-billion, or more than 60% of its initial target.
Ramaphosa pulled out all the stops to sell the country as an investment destination to 50 companies. He told delegates at the start of the meeting that the country was fully equipped in terms of manufacturing, infrastructure and financial systems that made it the perfect gateway for future investments on the continent.
“As we meet here, the African continent stands on the cusp of a new era in economic development. In January next year, the African Continental Free Trade Area will take effect. We will be establishing a continental market of some 1.3 billon people with a combined GDP in the region of $2.3-trillion,” he said. “This will be the biggest market of a people united, and it is quite historic for our continent to have developed to a point where we have now embraced the creation of a market such as this one.”
Ramaphosa also said that the country’s geographical location was ideal.
“With its advanced infrastructure, diverse economy, sophisticated capital market and developed manufacturing capacity, our own country is in the ideal location for any company wanting to reach the continental market with greater effectiveness from a cost and logistical point of view,” he said.
“We are well located right at the bottom of the continent, all these endowments that we have stand us in good stead: more than 3000 kilometres of coastline with wonderful infrastructure ports and being able to launch it to the entire continent. Any company with a huge appetite for his market should know that SA is the entry point for this market.”
Over the last two years, 102 projects have been announced. About 19 investment projects have been completed and 44 projects, which represent 57% of the investments, are currently underway.
Twelve projects are still in their early stages, and 21 had to be put on ice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The conference covered a number of areas, including small business growth, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and digital opportunities and tourism.
According to the latest figures on where the money has been invested:
. The ICT sector has received R31-billion
- Over R63.6-billion has been spent on the mining sector
- The automotive sector has attracted R23-billion
- Around R6.3-billion has been spent on the forestry, paper and pulp sector
- The property and hospitality sector has seen an investment of R8.2-billion
- The Fast-Moving Consumer Goods sector has received R6-billion.
- And financial services has received around R5.6-billion
“These investments are taking place throughout the country with projects planned out in all eight metropolitan municipalities and 26 district municipalities,” Ramaphosa said.
On developing SMMEs, he also announced that Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and his Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development counterpart, Thoko Didiza, had signed a Sugary Master Plan with industry stakeholders on Monday.
“The plan was developed in partnership with sugarcane growers, some of whom are small growers out there in the rural parts of our country. They participated throughout their various organisations and institutions to help
craft out this plan,” he said.
“While this time of rebuilding our economy is fraught with risk, danger, hardship and difficulty, it is also a time of great opportunity.”