Special economic envoy Jacko Maree speaks during the session on South African investment opportunities at the 6th BRICS Business Council annual meeting currently taking place in Durban. PHOTO: Motshwari Mofokeng / ANA Pictures

DURBAN - Lack of skills, visa restrictions, land expropriation, and policy uncertainty are some of the stumbling blocks that President Cyril Ramaphosa's special economic envoys have to navigate when trying to coax foreign investors to plough money into the South African economy.

"It is still clearly understood that we have educational and skills deficit in large sections of our population, but there are great examples of companies that are upskilling people to compete," presidential envoy Jacko Maree said.

"Movement of people and visas have been a bit of a challenge and we are highlighting that we have to make visas accessible for businesspeople to be able to bring in money. The president has also assured us that the land issue will be resolved in a win-win manner, but it's not helping in the short term."

Maree was addressing the session on South African investment opportunities during the 6th BRICS Business Council annual meeting currently taking place in Durban. 

He said that foreign investors were raising serious questions about the country's economic policy direction which somehow made them skeptical and diminished their appetite to invest in the country.

"Black Economic Empowerment has often been raised as an impediment, but there are hundreds of companies that quite successfully managed to deal with various codes, it is possible and we would encourage companies to come and invest in South Africa," Maree said.

"Investors are asking for policy certainty and continuity, more importantly knowing that whatever the rules are in South Africa, the policies will be left relatively unchanged for a period of time."

But all not is lost, as Maree said that most foreign investors wanted to take the lead from domestic investors as a way of showing confidence in their own economy.

"The message that we have been getting from foreign companies that are looking to invest in South Africa is that most foreign direct investors would like to follow local investors, they take comfort from the fact that locals are investing before they do," he said.

Maree said, however, that foreign investors had hope in the country's economy as Ramaphosa had managed to secure $20 billion in investment from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for South Africa's renewable energy, tourism and mining sectors. 

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African News Agency (ANA)