President Cyril Ramaphosa says the special economic envoys, which he appointed last month, are telling the world that South Africa is on a path to economic recovery and that it is a sound destination for investment.
The President said this when he fielded oral questions from Members of Parliament at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
He was responding to a question by ANC MP Adrian Williams, who had asked what message the special envoys on economic investment were planning to convey to potential investors.
“The message that these special envoys will convey to the rest of the world is that South Africa is indeed on a path to economic revival and they are already explaining why the country is an attractive investment destination with as yet unrealised potential.
“The envoys stated that South Africa is buoyed by the new optimism with improving business confidence, consumer confidence as well as an improving investor sentiment,” he said.
Ahead of flying out to a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government last month, the President announced the appointment of former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, former Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas, and business leaders Jaco Maree and Phumzile Langeni as special economic envoys to lobby potential investors to look South ahead of the country’s planned investment conference.
Through the investment conference, government is planning to raise US$100 billion in new investments over the next five years.
“Last month … I appointed four special envoys on investment, which was a follow-up to what was said in the State of the Nation Address in relation to creating a climate in our country which is conducive for investments to be brought in in a large measure and numbers.
“I appointed these envoys to meet potential investors in both South Africa, in the rest of the African continent as well as around the world and this is part of what you can call an ambitious investment drive.
“This is in preparation for an investment conference which I spoke about in the State of the Nation Address [scheduled for] later this year. When I addressed this house, which was a joint-meeting, we were ambitious because we said we would like this conference to be held within three months,” he said.
The President also used the question and answer session to announce that government has since come to the realisation that the investment conference, which he had hoped would take place three months after the State of the Nation Address, can only be held later this year.
The President said government was also working on a social compact with business and labour, as well as civil society on a transformed and inclusive growth path for the economy.
He said an important part of building a social compact is the work that has started towards what he also addressed in the State of the Nation Address in relation to holding a jobs summit in which all social partners will make specific commitments to contribute towards faster job creation.
“The envoys will indicate that the economy, as they are already, is being well-managed, that government is consolidating fiscal debt, our currency has strengthened and that South African bonds are the best performing among emerging markets in 2018.
“Government, [envoys will say], is working to root-out corruption and instituting turn-around strategies at our state-owned enterprises,” he said.
Envoys to unpack benefits of investing in SA
The President said, meanwhile, that the special economic envoys will also inform potential investors that new boards are already in place at institutions such as Eskom and Denel and an interim board has been put in place at PRASA.
“As part of the work underway to improve South Africa’s investment climate, government has also established a one-stop shop which is already proving its worth and we have partnered with the World Bank to improve the country’s competitiveness.
“The investment envoys will also provide details on the support that government provides in a form of incentives, that government provides in relation to special economic zones, to attract and facilitate investment,” he said.
He said the investment recruitment drive, as well as investment road shows, will culminate into an investment conference, which will be a platform for investors to announce new investments and to be exposed to investment opportunities.
“More broadly, our aim through this investment drive, is to make South Africa an investment destination of choice for many years to come so that we can achieve sustained growth and create jobs, which will enable us to reduce poverty and also to transform our economy.”
Government investing in young people
The President said, meanwhile, the envoys will also tell the investing world that government is investing in the development of young people, who will drive the economy of the country into the future.
As such, government has begun the process of rolling out free higher education to students from poor backgrounds who would be faced with financial exclusion.
He also said that together with other government interventions in the education system, these will significantly help to boost the capabilities of the country’s workforce.
“We have launched an initiative in collaboration with the private sector to provide work experience opportunities to one million young people over the next three years.”