A big song and dance has been made about investment pledges secured by President Cyril Ramaphosa in July, with the Saudis and Emiratis pledging $10bn each and the Chinese promising $14.7bn, bringing him over a third of the way to his target of raising $100bn in five years. Making promises is one thing; breaking ground on a factory or oil refinery quite another. So let’s keep the champagne on ice until we see those dollars actively at work on South African soil. The reality is that Ramaphosa’s $100bn target, while it should be encouraged, will be nigh impossible to reach. Over the past six years, SA managed to attract just shy of $24bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) – less than the average annual target set by Ramaphosa – while outflows totalled nearly $35bn. On a net FDI basis, we’re actually in the red to the tune of $11bn. In fact, SA is one of the world’s top 10 investor economies based on FDI stock (direct investments held abroad), according to the latest World Investment Re...

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