Last week we held our fourth South Africa Investment Conference as part of our ambitious drive to raise R1.2 trillion in new investment over five years.
The value of the investment commitments made at the conference was R332 billion, bringing the total value of commitments to date to R1.14 trillion. With just one year to go, we have now reached 95% of the target we set in 2018.
The Investment Conference was significant for several reasons.
Firstly, this was an impressive amount of investment commitments in the midst of a pandemic that has dampened the global investment climate for more than two years.
Such is the appetite of global investors for our economy that this year saw pledges from traditional trading partners in the European Union, United States, China and the United Kingdom, but also from Canada, Mauritius, Norway, Turkey and Pakistan. We also had funding pledges from the United Arab Emirates, where we are currently participating in Dubai Expo 2020.
Secondly, firms that already have a footprint in South Africa are increasing their existing investment commitments, signifying a renewed vote of confidence in our economy even at this difficult time.
The expansion plans of existing mining operations include an additional R10 billion investment by Anglo American, R11.8 billion by Impala Platinum, and R2.8 billion from Ivanhoe Mines to expand its Platreef mine in Limpopo. In the automotive sector, the Ford Motor Company has committed R16.4 billion to expand the manufacture of the next generation Ford Ranger, and there are commitments of R800 million by BMW and R350 million by Volkswagen.
Thirdly, the range of projects represented at this year’s conference illustrate the diversity of our economy and that potential investors see far more opportunity across several sectors than they did in previous years.
We have secured investment pledges in mainstay sectors like mining, agriculture and automotive, but also in renewable energy production, pharmaceuticals, clothing and textiles, infrastructure and logistics, telecoms and the digital economy.
Our creative industries have been given a major boost by multimillion rand investments in film and television production by the world’s largest media companies like Warner Media and Netflix. After nearly 15 years in the making, the eThekwini Film Studio in KwaZulu-Natal will soon become a reality following a R7.5 billion investment from Videovision Entertainment.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this year’s conference was marked by increased domestic investment, most notably from black industrialists.
Thanks to a concerted campaign by government, we are continuing to increase the participation of black industrialists in the nation’s economy. Over the last five years, some R32 billion has been invested in nearly 800 black industrialists and entrepreneurs through funding initiatives within the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, with close to 120,000 jobs either saved or created.
At this year’s conference, black industrialists made investment pledges in mining and steel production, automotive, component manufacturing, consumer goods, bulk fuel storage, and ship-building and repair in the Saldanha Industrial Development Zone.
Importantly, these investments are not confined to the traditional economic centres.
As the commitments turn into projects, they will create jobs and improve livelihoods not only in the cities and metros, but also in small towns and rural areas. This will spur the growth of local economies, leading to more opportunities and to the improvement of people’s quality of life.
As one of the CEOs at last week’s conference said, the truest measure of the success of these investments lies in the extent to which they give opportunity to every South African to realise their potential.
Since the first South Africa Investment conference in 2018, these investments have brought jobs, work and training opportunities all over the country, from data centres in the Western Cape to e-hailing services in Gauteng, from food and beverage production and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in the Eastern Cape to mines in the North West and to factories around the country.
Delegates to the conference said that our reforms around energy, transport, telecommunications and immigration, and the progress of sectoral master plans, have improved investor confidence, as has government’s effort to increase private sector participation in our infrastructure build programme.
I am currently on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, where we are making a case for investors in the Gulf and beyond to come invest in South Africa. Our pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 is showcasing not just our agricultural and tourism offerings, but also what we have to offer in manufacturing, defence, aerospace, e-mobility and many other areas.
Several investors in these foreign markets often express surprise at just how diverse the South African economy is and the range of opportunities that exist.
In what often appears to be a sea of bad news, we are encouraged by the diversity and extent of the investment commitments made at the 4th South Africa Investment Conference.
These investments – like those made at past conferences – are good for employment, good for transformation and good for the country.