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

President Cyril Ramaphosa says SA’s six-month investment campaign at the Dubai Expo has been a success, driven by the development of commerce platforms for SA goods and new projects from companies based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Expo 2020 Dubai is a trade show, which has been running since last October and will end on March 31. It is considered the largest of its kind globally and has brought together more than 180 countries all competing for investment dollars from private and public sector players.

Attracting investment from foreigners has been a big part of Ramaphosa’s economic growth plan, which included an annual investment summit before lockdown. Foreigners make up a large contingent of investors in SA’s equities and bond markets, in addition to trade for minerals such as gold.

“We have a healthy trade surplus with the UAE and we’ve seen a number of UAE companies initiating forays into SA to invest,” Ramaphosa said at a media briefing at the Dubai Expo on Monday.  

“These are not Mickey Mouse companies,” he went on, saying that “those companies should see us as a potential, and in some cases an ongoing investment destination, is a feather in our hat because it shows that there is something that we are doing right in terms of being an attractive investment destination”. 

The UAE’s minister of tolerance, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, who received Ramaphosa on behalf of that country’s government, said trade between the UAE and SA is worth $5.9bn.

Ebrahim Patel, minister of trade, industry & competition, gave more detail on the country’s UAE trade effort, saying SA has built three platforms: a physical one, online and a shopping centre platform through the Expo. 

“With the shopping centre platform, there is a store here in Dubai called Hyperama. They showcase SA’s goods. When we spoke to them, they gave their sales figures. They said as a result of Dubai Expo and exposure, they’ve seen a significant bounce in their annual sales, beyond R100m.”

He also highlighted an SA-made electric delivery vehicle company that is in negotiation with Spinneys, a Dubai retailer, for an order of 700 vehicles.

After Ramaphosa’s recently concluded investment conference, Patel added: “We’ve had two big [UAE] projects coming from the investment conference. One is the setting up of an aluminium factory in Alberton for about R500m. We’ve also had Dubai World, through Imperial, making a R2.1bn commitment for fresh investment in logistics.”

Ramaphosa’s investment drive has been gathering steam over the years with a number of deals being concluded over the past year.

In 2021, US-based Vantage Data Centers said it plans to invest more than R15bn in a Johannesburg data centre and campus, another indication of the growing interest and investment in such infrastructure in SA, which has been spurred on by expansion in the use of cloud computing.

For now the government says R1.14-trillion, of a planned R1.2-trillion, has been raised since the start of Ramaphosa’s series of investment conferences. 

gavazam@businesslive.co.za

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