Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the South Africa-Canada Investor Engagement in Toronto, Canada, 8 June 2018
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to engage with you as we head to the G7 Outreach meeting in Charlevoix over the weekend.
This is a welcome opportunity to talk about South Africa’s economic renewal and the opportunities it presents for investors from across the world.
South Africa and Canada enjoy strong bilateral relations and a history of solidarity and friendship.
In the drafting of our democratic Constitution, we learned much from the Constitution of Canada, particularly the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Canada provided us with valuable support in our transition to democracy.
Former President Nelson Mandela was made an honorary citizen during his visit to Canada in 2001.
We cooperate in a number of international forums such as the UN, G20, the Commonwealth and the Cairns Group.
It is therefore fitting that we meet here today to further deepen relations, particularly in the areas of trade and investment.
We do so in the midst of a global economy is showing signs of recovery and improved growth.
However, it remains vulnerable, with a global trade war looming, a return to protectionism and the weakening of the multilateral rules-based international trade system.
South Africa sees Canada as a strategic partner in navigating these difficulties.
South Africa has entered a new dawn, a new era in which our economy occupies centre stage.
Business confidence and investor sentiment is improving.
Government is responding to create a dynamic and enabling business environment that will promote greater productive investment.
South Africa is undertaking measures to set the economy on a new path of growth, employment and transformation.
We are moving swiftly to restore credibility, improve governance and implement turn around strategies at South Africa’s state owned enterprises.
According to a Goldman Sachs report released in January 2018, South Africa is regarded as a “hot emerging market’’ with lucrative opportunities for both foreign and domestic investors.
In March, Moody’s revised South Africa’s economic outlook from negative to stable.
This is a positive development, which can be attributed to the implementation of more predictable and transparent policies.
The revised outlook conveys the message that South Africa is politically and economically stable and is becoming more attractive to potential investors.
We do not underestimate the task ahead of us.
The latest economic growth figures for the first quarter of 2018 show that the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors remain under pressure.
At the same time, the figures show that service industries are resilient.
They demonstrate also that greater and more sustained growth requires decisive measures to address the key structural challenges in our economy.
We are therefore investing significantly in our education and skills development programmes, using our competition policies to create opportunities for market entrants, reducing the cost of business and developing our economic infrastructure.
Government is working with urgency to guide the economy towards a more sustainable growth trajectory and to restore South Africa to investment grade status.
Government, private sector, labour and civil society are working together on a social compact to create jobs, particularly for young South Africans.
We are working to significantly increase the levels of fixed investment in the economy.
We know that foreign direct investment is a critical driver of economic growth for both developing and developed economies.
It strengthens productive capacity through transfer of technology and knowledge, the creation of job opportunities, improvements in human capital and enhanced production processes.
Greater capital inflows generate greater trade flows, and with it the opportunity for a country like South Africa to derive greater value from its mineral, agricultural and other resources.
We have therefore embarked on an investment drive that aims to raise US$ 100 billion over the next five years.
We have appointed four special envoys on investment that will meet potential investors both in South Africa and in major financial centres.
They are working towards a major investment conference, which will take place in South Africa in October this year, at which we plan to announce several deals that have been concluded or are close to being concluded.
As part of improving our investment service to investors, we have established Invest SA to focus on investment promotion and facilitation.
Invest SA has established ‘one stop shops’, which bring together key government departments in a single location to provide specialist advisory services, fast track investment projects and reduce regulatory burdens for investors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A significant part of our economic development agenda is to promote greater economic cooperation among African countries.
Earlier this year, we were part of the African Union summit in Rwanda where countries committed themselves to the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area.
This will create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investment.
It is through increasing intra-African trade and investment that we will grow, develop and diversify African economies, and make them more attractive to investment.
This is an important part of our efforts to kick start growth in the South African economy so that we can address the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Key to the success of our efforts is a firm partnership with business and labour.
In March, we launched, together with the private sector, the Youth Employment Service initiative, which aims to bridge the critical gap between learning and working.
Over the next three years, this initiative aims to create paid work experience opportunities in South African companies to at least one million young people.
We have done important work in generating private investment to meet key infrastructure needs.
Our independent power producers programme has unlocked significant investment in renewable energy generation, while contributing to a more diverse energy mix and advancing our efforts to mitigate climate change.
We are also working closely with our neighbours in Southern Africa on regional opportunities to exploit natural gas, coal bed methane and shale gas.
We are giving renewed attention to mining, an industry that has been in decline over many years, but which still holds huge potential for job creation, growth, beneficiation, transformation and empowerment.
We will shortly be finalising a new Mining Charter in consultation with the industry, labour, affected communities and other stakeholders.
This will provide clarity on how we will balance the imperatives of growth, sustainability and transformation.
South Africa and Canada are major global mining nations.
We are therefore looking to Canada as an important source of investment, partnership and collaboration in the mining sector.
Our aim is to unlock the economic potential of our country, which has been constrained for decades by policies of racial exclusion.
For generations, black South Africans were denied opportunities to own assets, establish businesses, acquire skills and enter professions.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the patterns of ownership and usage of land.
The extreme concentration of ownership of land is one of the great impediments to the full realisation of our country’s potential.
We have taken a decision to accelerate land reform, including land redistribution and ensuring security of tenure for the rural poor.
This needs to be done through a range of measures, which will include, in appropriate circumstances, the expropriation of land without compensation.
We are determined that this should be achieved in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution, enhances agricultural production and food security and promotes economic development.
We are certain that our programme of land reform will enhance the country’s economic capacity and improve its attractiveness as an investment destination.
As it stands, our investment law provides significant guarantees to both domestic and international investors.
South Africa has a number of attractive sectors such as mining, oil and gas, shipbuilding, agro-processing, advanced materials, innovation and clean tech, tourism and financial services, among others.
We have established several special economic zones and industrial incentive programmes to encourage investors to take up opportunities in these and other sectors.
South Africa has embarked a new path of renewal and growth.
We are hard at work to remove the constraints that have held us back and to create new opportunities for growth.
South Africa is open for business.
We anticipate a new wave of investment in our economy and in our region over the next few years.
We encourage Canadian companies to join that wave and to reap the rewards of investing in a country and a continent on the rise.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency