President Cyril Ramaphosa officially launches the Tshwane Automotive Hub at the Ford Motor Company in Mamelodi. Photo: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed Ford South Africa for partnering in the R3.6 billion investment in Tshwane and said yesterday that the launch was a sign of growing investor confidence in the country, just a day before the opening of the Second South Africa Investment Conference.

The Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is expected to create 6 700 jobs, with at least 18 car manufacturing companies operating on the premises.

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) embarked on a public-private partnership with the government to facilitate the creation of the Automotive SEZ adjacent to Ford’s Silverton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Pretoria. South Africa desperately needs new investments to ignite its dwindling economy after the growth outlook was slashed from 1.5 percent to 0.5 percent last week.

Moody’s has revised the credit rating outlook from stable to negative, due to the risk that the government will not succeed in arresting the deterioration of its finances, although it maintained the country’s credit rating at investment grade. 

In light of these economic headwinds, Ramaphosa said he was encouraged by the decision of the FMCSA to work with the government to establish the first automotive incubation centre.

“This is immensely encouraging, and comes at a time when business, government, labour and civil society must work together to resolve the twin challenges of slow economic growth and unemployment,” Ramaphosa said.

“We are on a firm path to rebuilding our country and returning our economy to higher levels of productivity, as well as to transform it to make it more inclusive. Restoring the confidence of both domestic and foreign investors is the linchpin of our economic reform agenda.”

Neale Hill, the managing director of FMCSA, said the public-private partnership was crucial to drive growth in the automotive industry, create more jobs and boost the economy.

“The message we want to communicate is that South Africa is a competitive and proven investment destination. We reiterate that we welcome and encourage greater partnership between the government and the private sector,” Ramaphosa said.

“The Ford Motor Company is a valued and long-standing investor in our country, and the opening of this plant further cements our good relations. It sends as clear a signal as ever that we can achieve more if we collaborate.”

Ramaphosa also identified regulatory hurdles as the single biggest obstacle to attracting investment and growing the South African economy. 

He said the government was putting in place measures to ease business regulation, as an obstructive regulatory environment drove investors away.  

The government will today launch the 2nd annual SA Investment Conference aimed at raising R1.2 trillion domestic and foreign direct investment in the next five years.

More than R280 billion was pledged by private sector companies during the inaugural conference last year.

BUSINESS REPORT