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22 on Sloane: Summing up the Investment Conference

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | NOVEMBER 11, 2019

Photo Source : www.sainvestmentconference.co.za : President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the 2019 South Africa Investment Conference.

Recently, I attended the second SA Investment Conference in Sandton, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa. I instantly felt a strong sense of positivity, hope and togetherness in the room and, although a few major CEO’s faces were missing, the gathering still had the bulk of the economic who’s-who in attendance.

Minister Ebrahim Patel kicked off the event with a recap of the R290bn committed to from last year; the seven projects that have been completed and the number of jobs created. The remaining ones are still in the building process or near completion.

President Ramaphosa said these commitments are a clear vote of confidence in the South African economy. He added that, more importantly, they are a sign of confidence in the future of our country and the belief that the South African economy is poised for growth going into the future. South Africa is still the lead country to invest in on the continent.

He went on to say that “we still carry the scars where the colour of one’s skin determines one’s future. The legacy of our divided past has left people without skills and assets and the empowerment of women and the youth must be a top priority. Over the past decade, the economy has barely grown and unemployment has increased. Yet even in these challenging times, our hope continues to spring eternal. As a nation, we believe that we will not be defeated by our challenges. We have created an environment that is competitive and conducive and we are removing constraints to inclusive growth. African countries must trade with each other and AFCTA is meant to put us on the map and ensure we consume what we produce”.

Talking numbers, he stressed that government is committed to setting up the infrastructure fund of R100bn, which will be incubated at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. The total value of commitment made at the conference was R363bn and this can create a total of 412 000 jobs in the next few years. From the commitment made from last year, this is 17% higher than those made last year. All in all, government wants to reach R1.2trn in commitments and investments in five years.

Summing up, the president said that “unemployment continues to undermine social stability and economic growth. We will go through with an economic reform agenda. Failure is not in our dictionary, it is only success. We will not rest till we have restored the health of South Africa’s economy”.

With the conference and all its numbers and promises still fresh in my mind, I went to Cape Town for a few meetings where I bumped into a few international stakeholders attending the Africa Oil week. We discussed about the economic state of the nation and most seemed very optimistic yet stressed that good governance and policy stability are still severely lacking in this country. This needs to be remedied quickly to fully restore investor faith and trust and must be able to survive no matter which government comes into power.

A few has criticised the investment conference for being all about pledges and not real commitments, but we must start somewhere given the global and local challenges over the past few years. From the reports presented by Minister Patel, it seems lots of progress from those last year pledges turned into commitments were achieved.

Once more Kudos to the organising team for a well delivered conference and content.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.