Opening Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Business Seminar on Opportunities in South Africa, New York, 26 September 2018
President and CEO of the Business Council for International Understanding, Mr Peter Tichansky,
President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, Ms Florizelle Liser,
President of the US-Africa Business Centre at the US Chamber of Commerce, Mr Scott Eisner,
Business leaders from South Africa and the United States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for this opportunity to have a discussion on the South African investment experience.
It is through such engagements that we, as the South African government, are able to understand what motivates, energises and worries investors.
And it is through such engagements that investors can gain greater insight into government’s plans and prospects.
In the State of the Nation Address that I delivered in February this year, I announced that a central priority for my government is to encourage significant new investment in our economy.
This is a necessary condition for the growth of our economy and the creation of jobs on a scale that will significantly reduce current levels of unemployment.
Foreign direct investment is critical to this effort, because 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.
It is for this reason that, earlier this year, we launched an ambitious investment drive to raise $100 billion in new investment over five years.
An important milestone in this initiative is an Investment Conference to be held in Johannesburg on 26 October.
The Investment Conference, which will involve domestic and international investors, provides a platform for would-be investors to seek out opportunities in the South African market.
In preparation for the Investment Conference, I appointed four Special Envoys on Investment, who have spent the last few months engaging both domestic and foreign investors on the opportunities that exist in South Africa.
They have travelled to major financial centres in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas to meet with potential investors.
Through this work, we are establishing new investment relationships and strengthening existing ones.
Many US companies have a long and successful history of involvement in South Africa.
South Africa is the second largest destination of US investments in Sub-Saharan Africa after Mauritius.
Total bilateral investment, comprising FDI, portfolio and other investments, stood at approximately R2.2 trillion in 2016.
Investments by US companies into South Africa accounted for about 22% of total inward investments from the world.
There are over 800 US companies doing business in South Africa, accounting for 10% of GDP and employing over 220,000 people.
It is our intention, through this investment drive, to substantially expand the presence of US companies in South Africa.
Among other things, this requires that we improve the investment environment in the country and that we take 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 new 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 at all credit rating agencies.
Government, private sector, labour and civil society are working together on a social compact to create jobs, particularly for young South Africans.
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.
We also have a good track-record 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 have finalised a new Mining Charter in consultation with the mining industry, labour, affected communities and other stakeholders.
This provides clarity on how we will balance the imperatives of growth, sustainability and transformation.
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.
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.
A significant part of our economic development agenda is to promote greater economic cooperation among African countries.
Earlier this year, African heads of state agreed to the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area that will provide access to a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than US$3.4 trillion.
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.
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.
We are determined to change the economic fortunes of our people through partnership and cooperation with investors here in the United States and across the world.
We invite you to be part of the regeneration of our country and of our continent.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency