By SA News
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has set the wheels of investment into South Africa in motion at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London on Tuesday.
He used his keynote address at the forum to punt his newly-appointed investment envoys, while calling on Commonwealth countries to pledge towards investment in South Africa.
“This week we announced an ambitious investment drive that aims to generate at least $100 billion in new investment over the next five years. I have appointed four investment envoys to go right across the world, to go and campaign for investments for our country because once again South Africa is truly open for investment.
“This drive will culminate in an Investment Conference later this year. We expect that investors from other Commonwealth countries will be prominent among those participating at the conference – and that it will include several of the people attending the Commonwealth Business Forum,” said the President.
The Special Envoys on Investment is made up of finance heavyweights such as former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, former Finance Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas, Executive Chairperson of Afropulse Group Phumzile Langeni and Chairman of Liberty Group and former CEO of Standard Bank Jacko Maree.
President Ramaphosa left for the United Kingdom on Monday to attend the jam-packed Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). His diary includes a courtesy call to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May, attending the CHOGM opening and closing sessions as well as participating in a number of executive and retreat sessions.
During his courtesy call to the Queen, the President received a framed letter that Nelson Mandela wrote to the Queen in 1994, as South Africa was readmitted to the Commonwealth. South Africa is this year marking the centenary of the late struggle icon, who would have turned 100 years old on 18 July 2018.
But the President’s visit was more than just pleasantries, with investment at the top of his agenda.
As a collective the Commonwealth countries represent 2.4 billion citizens and have historical trade and investment ties, similar legal systems and forms of government, and a common language of commerce.
“For us, the Commonwealth provides a platform to forge common approaches to matters of global importance, underpinned by a commitment to democracy, human rights, good governance and prosperity for all. It is also a platform to promote trade, investment and the exchange of skills and knowledge between countries.
“As the President of South Africa I am here to do good business deals to attract investment to South Africa and indeed to Africa our continent,” said the President.
He assured potential investors that South Africa is open for business and the country is putting measures in place to make it conducive and attractive to investors.
“We are improving the investment environment by, among other things, ensuring policy certainty and consistency, improving the performance of state-owned enterprises and consolidating fiscal debt,” said the President.
Strengthening ties will ensure investment
The establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area is a step in the right direction for investment and economic integration across the continent.
“Africa achieved a milestone last month when the continent’s leaders met in Kigali under the auspices of the African Union to agree on the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area.
“The establishment of the free trade area in Africa will revolutionise economic activity on the continent, enabling the transfer of goods, services, skills and technology, and access to a market of over a billion people,” said the President.
Mindful of the challenges faced by the continent, such as infrastructure, education, technology, water access, unemployment and lack of skills, President Ramaphosa highlighted that the creation of a free trade area alone is not enough.
“It needs to be accompanied by the development of the infrastructure that is going to carry these goods and generate the power that is going to enable their production.
“It needs to be accompanied by investments in universities, schools, hospitals and clinics, communication technology and water reticulation,” said the President.
By strengthening trade ties, significantly increasing the levels of foreign direct investment and by working together to develop economic capabilities, the countries will achieve inclusive and sustained prosperity.