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

Local and international companies will announce various investment strategies for SA over the course of the inaugural investment conference on Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

“With your presence here, you have chosen to walk along the path for growth, job creation and prosperity for the people in this country,” Ramaphosa told the more than 1,000 delegates at the opening of the event, adding that SA’s potential has been constrained in recent years.

“Our task to move our country forward is to build a social compact, to build our country and move our economy forward. [To] build a county driven by enterprise and innovation, to develop an economy that is diverse and resistant as well as prosperous,” he said.

“The history of injustice, which has seen the continued exclusion of millions of South Africans, particularly as it relates to skills and the ownership of assets, is the single greatest impediment to the development of our society.”

He said economic growth and job creation are at the centre of SA’s national agenda. This will move forward through the “ambitious and unprecedented drive” to raise at least $100bn over five years that was announced in April.

“We did so knowing no meaningful growth and job creation would be done without a massive surge in investment in our economy,” he said.

“Today a number of local and international companies will be coming forward to make announcements on investments they want to make to expand and invest in our economy.”

He said that SA has also received investment pledges from a number of other countries.

“In furtherance of this commitment, I call upon South African companies to engage with the investment envoys, to engage on their investment plans, including capital expenditure,” said Ramaphosa.

Over the course of the day, Ramaphosa said a number of pertinent issues will be raised, including policy uncertainty and regulatory obstacles investors have identified.

He said the government has been working with the World Bank to ease the process of doing business and creating a new foreign direct investment strategy for the country.

“We will reduce timelines, for investments to be affected with greater speed,” he said.

He said the government will also confront challenges in some of the largest state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that have experienced years of decline in governance, financial performance and have been eroded by corruption.

“The private sector plays the biggest role. Where we have played the role as the state, many of our own companies have faltered and stumbled along the way. It is essential that those companies be restored as drivers in the economy,” he said.

Touching on land reform, which has been a concern for investment, Ramaphosa said there is general agreement among most South Africans that it needed to be accelerated “not only to address the historical injustice perpetrated against the majority of our people, [but] … to effectively unlock the economic potential of our land”.

He said the government is providing certainty to those who own land, who need land and those looking to invest in SA’s economy.

“Our constitution should allay any fears that their factories will be expropriated. That shall not happen. Your investment will be protected.”​