Minister Siyabonga Cwele. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Minister Siyabonga Cwele. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The government says it will use the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World Conference, which SA is hosting for the first time later in September, as a platform to attract new investment.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced earlier in 2018 that the government had set its sights on raising over R1-trillion in new investments over five years.

However, observers say efforts to attract new local and foreign investment will be hampered by policy uncertainty, particularly around the issue of expropriation of land without compensation.

The annual ITU conference, taking place in Durban from September 10 to 13, attracts more than 9,000 delegates from around the world, including government and industry leaders, to explore and identify investment opportunities and best practices for socioeconomic development through ICT.

Some of the key discussions will be on 5G for smarter digital development, SA’s department of telecommunications and postal services says.

The conference "is helping us to advance our ambitions as a country that is open for business by providing a platform to attract investment while enabling us to play a role in advancing the developmental agenda at multilateral organisations", telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele said at the weekend.

"We want to reiterate that SA is open for business. We shall use the platform to attract new investment into the country towards the president’s target of $100bn in investment over the next five years.

"We hope that some of these companies will participate at the investment summit in October."

Ramaphosa said earlier in 2018 that SA would host a major investment summit in October which would aim to raise new investments.

Cwele says the conference will give entrepreneurs from SA and the rest of Africa a chance to showcase homegrown innovations, "as the continent seeks to migrate from being just consumers to producers of ICTs".

Working with its partners, the government will provide support to more than 50 small businesses to exhibit at the conference.

Multinational companies will also bring small businesses from Africa and the rest of the world, in fields such as analytics, automation of performance management, and geolocation of animals.

"As a continent, we can migrate to being producers and be at the cutting edge of technology if we invest in intellectual property," Cwele says.

"The ITU Telecom World has committed to assist the continent to achieve this in various ways through the legacy projects.

"The ITU has agreed to support us in setting up the African Digital Transformation Centre which will be launched at the Durban conference."

The centre has been conceptualised as an ecosystem enabling multi-stakeholder groups of experts to conduct research, identify new approaches to policy development, explore ways of supporting innovation, consider new forms of funding support for start-ups, and facilitate partnerships between established business and small businesses.