OPINION: All of us have a duty to promote foreign investment
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CAPE TOWN - The new era of hope, inspired by the spirit of “Thuma Mina” (or “Send Me”) that was invoked by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address in February is reverberating across our nation.
It has a brought a sense of renewal that is moving our economy forward and has ushered in greater confidence in the country as an investment destination of choice.
The government is building on this renewed wave of optimism by starting a cycle of investment that will attract more than R1trillion over the next five years. In this regard, we have moved quickly to reverse the strain in investment sentiment and local business confidence of the past few years by creating an environment for investment to flourish.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) last month, Ramaphosa said: “Government is initiating measures to set the economy on a new path of growth, employment and transformation. We are moving swiftly to restore the credibility, stabilise the finances, and improve the operational performance and governance at state-owned companies.”
In kicking off our investment drive, Ramaphosa met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the CHOGM on deepening our partnership around economic matters.
Britain has committed R858million over the next four years to support our work of making the country more attractive to investors.
To showcase our frontiers of investment, Ramaphosa has appointed four special envoys to engage both domestic and foreign investors. They include former finance minister Trevor Manuel, former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas, Afropulse Group executive chairperson Phumzile Langeni and former Standard Bank chief executive Jacko Maree.
They will take our investment story, which includes new opportunities in the green economy, oil and gas, shipbuilding, the oceans economy and renewable energy, to global investors in a focused and cost-effective manner.
Their ultimate aim is to reverse the decline in foreign direct investment from 24percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008 to about 19percent today. Our National Development Plan has set the target of foreign direct investment in the country at 30percent of GDP.
The envoys will travel to major financial centres in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas to meet with potential investors. They will also seek out investors on the continent.
The investment drive will culminate in a major investment conference towards the end the year.
The conference, which will involve domestic and international investors, will report on actual investment deals that have been concluded. In addition, it will provide a platform for would-be investors to seek out opportunities in the South African market.
The government is doing all it can to draw in more investors so that it can grow employment, reduce poverty and turn the economy around. We believe these investments will contribute significantly to our national goals of rapidly growing the economy and supporting socio-economic development. They begin a cycle of employment and consumer demand.
The responsibility, however, to create an environment that attracts inward investment is not the government’s alone. South Africans, as shareholders in the country, have a vested interest in promoting the country in a globally competitive environment.
We should never lose sight of the positive attributes that make our country an investment destination. They include our stable democracy, sound financial system and highly regulated banking sector. Investors are supported by world-class infrastructure, exciting innovation, research and development capabilities, and an established manufacturing base.
In a bid to cut red tape, work is under way to rationalise and streamline investment regulations and reduce the cost of establishing and running businesses.
For example, our InvestSA One Stop Shop brings together all government services in one place for prospective investors who want to set up a business. It offers a streamlined registration, administrative and authorisation process to get businesses off the ground quickly.
Increased investment in manufacturing and related sectors is being targeted through more effective use of industrial incentives, special economic zones and local procurement requirements.
More opportunities are being created for new market entrants through our competition policy, preferential procurement measures, and expanded support to small and medium-sized businesses.
In the spirit of “Thuma Mina”, let us use every opportunity to profile South Africa and share our investment offerings with the world.
To be part of our investment success requires each one of us, in the words of
the late great Bra Hugh Masekela in his song Thuma Mina, boldly to proclaim “send me”.
Rob Davies is the Minister of Trade and Industry.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.