The SA Investment Conference is proving to be a vehicle to make inroads into attracting investment and creating jobs, if the billions in pledges made by local and foreign companies to boost the country’s economy are anything to go by.
Several business leaders yesterday made pledges amounting to billions of rands for projects in the next five years that will create thousands of new jobs.
The poultry, clothing, textile and footwear industries were among those that signed master plans with labour and government.
Taking stock of progress made since last year’s inaugural conference, President Cyril Ramaphosa told delegates that of the 31 projects, eight have been realised and 17 are being implemented – representing a total of R238 billion in investments.
“This is a phenomenal achievement… It is gratifying to see commitments made at this conference last year materialising in the form of new factories, new production lines, new products, new services and new jobs.
“It is pleasing to see that investors continue to consider South Africa as a country with much to offer and a viable and profitable investment destination.”
While SA faced many challenges, it prided itself on the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a strong legal framework, vibrant civil society, a progressive labour regime and an independent media.
“As a nation, we have determined that we will not be defeated by challenges we face.”
He said much progress had been made in implementing the policy reforms that created policy certainty, consistency and predictability for investors and for citizens.
“As a major boost to manufacturing, localisation and job creation, nine companies have already confirmed their intention to set up factories by January 2021, with some coming on-stream well before this date.
“This will entail an investment of around R3.6 billion and the creation of 6,700 direct jobs,” he said.
Turning to Africa, Ramaphosa said the Continental Free Trade Area was set to “improve access to existing markets and lead to the creation of new ones”.
“This treaty will unleash the manufacturing and industrial capability of the continent as companies seek to make products for the burgeoning African market, thereby addressing the absurd situation that African countries do not trade with each other.”
Trade among African countries stood at 15%, compared to 47% in the Americas, 61% in Asia and 67% in Europe.
Among the organisations and companies that made notable pledges were:
- Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) New Development Bank with R23 billion towards energy and transport mega projects.
- Transnet with R22.6 billion over five years going towards the revamping of port equipment and infrastructure in Durban and Richards Bay, creating 20,000 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs.
- MTN with R50 billion over five years in capital investment on connectivity.
- Natural gas producer Renergen with R700 million.
- Agricultural Development Agency with R12.6 billion, benefiting 450,000 people in agriculture and farming and creating 300,000 jobs by next year.
- VM Automotive with R426 million, currently employing 110 people and planning to build a plant in Berlin near East London.
- Toyota with R2.85 billion to create 1,500 new jobs assembling new vehicles.
- Naamsa Automotive Industry Transformation Fund with R40 billion towards the upskilling of black employees and empowerment of black car dealers, especially women.
- Japanese Investment Forum with R20 billion African investment, of which a substantial part is aimed at South Africa.
- Discovery Bank with R1.4 billion over the next three years towards financial services and healthcare.
- Sappi with R14 billion over five years towards the establishment of manufacturing plants in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
- German medical and pharmaceutical giant B Braun Melsungen AG with R300 million, creating 100 jobs.