Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

The Africa Investment Forum (AIF) is a platform to move infrastructure projects to bankable stages for SA, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“To be an investment destination of choice, we need to resolve the problems that keep investors away from our continent, by addressing governance challenges, such as policy uncertainty, inconsistency, financial mismanagement and corruption,” Ramaphosa said at the inaugural AIF organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Sandton on Thursday.

“This is a marketplace to do deals and conclude transactions.” 

The forum comes on the back of the investment summit at the end of October, which saw an influx of R290bn in investment into the economy, and R400bn in investment pledges.

In April, Ramaphosa set an ambitious goal of raising $100bn in investment over the next five years. With national elections looming in 2019, he is under pressure to show tangible plans to boost the economy, which has been battered by low growth, and has struggled to breach the 2% growth mark in the last decade.

The country’s flailing economy fell into a recession for the first time since the global financial crisis in the first half of the year, while unemployment has edged closer to 30% as key industries shed jobs, exacerbating the issues of poverty and inequality.

Ramaphosa said on Thursday that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is imperative for raising investment across the continent and in SA. African countries signed the African Union’s agreement in March, with the goals of creating a single market and customs union on the continent, which has a market of 1.2-billion people and a combined economy of $3.4-trillion. 

Links to the continent

“For SA, this informs our approach to investment and development. We are intricately linked to the whole continent. Investment is vital to re-igniting growth in our country,” said Ramaphosa. “We, as a country, we advocate that investment should flow throughout the whole continent. We know with investment on the continent, we are also going to grow.” 

AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina told Business Day that SA is pivotal to the success of intra-continental trade. “SA has deep financial markets and plays a significant role in the development of capital markets. This is Africa’s most industrialised economy and it has a big role to play.”

Ramaphosa said, “We need more infrastructure projects heading to bankable stages. This is what this forum presents us; an opportunity to close deals. Adesina estimates that $28bn in deals will be closed.”

Speaking ahead of Ramaphosa on Thursday, Gauteng premier David Makhura said he was confident that the president’s goal of raising $100bn over the next five years would be achieved in a much shorter time.

Despite weak economic growth across the continent, foreign direct investment has grown 60%, he said. “We just want to say that Africa, SA and the Gauteng province are open for investment.”