Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the South Africa – Spain Business Forum on the occasion of an Official Visit to South Africa by President Pedro Sánchez of the Government of Spain, 27 October 2022
Your Excellency President Pedro Sánchez,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Leaders of business from Spain and South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome once again to our guests from the Kingdom of Spain.
We greatly appreciate this opportunity to meet with business leaders from our two countries.
South Africa is greatly encouraged by the number of Spanish companies invested in our economy across a range of sectors.
With us today, we have businesses in renewable energy, water, financial services, healthcare, automotive, mining, tourism and agro-processing, to name but a few.
As part of our National Industrial Policy, we have developed strategies to rapidly industrialise these sectors and to create jobs right here in South Africa.
We want to see higher levels of foreign direct investment by Spanish companies into South Africa. We also want to see more South African companies investing in Spain.
This engagement is a valuable platform for us to improve the balance of trade between our two countries.
South Africa is currently the 12th highest destination for Spanish exports, and Spain is the 20th highest destination for South African exports.
Spain is a strategic tourism market for South Africa.
In 2019, approximately 42,000 tourists from Spain visited South Africa.
With the COVID-19 pandemic in abeyance, we are ready to welcome more Spanish tourists to our country.
South Africa and the Kingdom of Spain have a well-established bilateral economic relationship, which provides a firm platform for growth and expansion.
South Africa’s focus is to increase the export of value-added goods and services to Spain.
Our focus, in this regard, is on mining equipment and technologies, advanced manufacturing, alternative energy equipment, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products and food processing equipment.
Spain’s investment into South Africa is concentrated in the renewable energy, tourism, steel, automotive, water and agro-processing sectors.
Companies such as Acciona and GRI have made significant investments in the renewable energy sector.
A few years ago, I visited the GRI wind tower mast manufacturing facility in the Atlantis Special Economic Zone in the Western Cape province.
We hope to see these and other facilities grow with the massive expansion of renewable energy in South Africa.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused severe disruption to both developed and developing economies.
In response, South Africa adopted an Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that prioritises spending in infrastructure, an employment stimulus to create and sustain jobs, and measures to deepen local industrialisation.
To support a rapid economic rebound, South Africa has prioritised interventions to drive industrial growth and the expansion of energy generation capacity.
These initiatives are providing great opportunities for investors.
We are expanding local production to make South African exports more competitive.
Sectoral master plans have been developed for key industries like agriculture and agro-processing, renewable energy, automotive and steel.
One area of collaboration we see is in the clothing and textiles industry, in line with the Clothing and Textile Masterplan.
In 2018, we set ourselves an ambitious target of attracting R1.2 trillion – or around $100 billion at the time – in new investments over a five-year period.
Through four South Africa Investment Conferences, the latest being in March this year, we have nearly reached our target.
We hope to see a strong showing by Spanish companies at the 5th South Africa Investment Conference next year.
We are implementing a range of interventions to rapidly expand our energy generation capacity.
The national power utility Eskom is being split into three separate entities for generation, transmission and distribution.
We are increasing the procurement of renewable energy, upscaling the use of gas and battery storage, and removing regulatory restrictions on self-generation.
Regulatory reform is also underway to liberalise the electricity generation market, to make it more competitive and to attract private sector investment.
We are greatly encouraged by the overwhelming response from the private sector, particularly the mining sector, to generate their own electricity.
This will greatly assist in addressing our current energy supply challenges.
We are undertaking far-reaching reforms in other network industries, such as telecommunications, ports and rail, and water infrastructure.
Our message is that South Africa is open for business.
We welcome increased and expanded investment from Spain.
We look to continue to build on our strong trade relationship by increasing the value and diversity of exports from South Africa to Spain.
I wish you well in your deliberations and look forward to many new ventures and partnerships between South African and Spanish companies.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency