President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers opening address at the second South Africa Investment Conference held from November 5 to 7 2019 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. The conference is under the theme “Accelerating Growth by Building Partnerships”. The annual conference is a key milestone in the country’s bold ambition to raise R1.2 trillion in new domestic and international investment over the next five years. 06/11/2019. Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

PRETORIA - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday officially opened the Africa Investment Forum, with a call for the deepening of peace and stability across Africa if the continent were to reach its ambitious investment and trade volume targets.

Ramaphosa told delegates, who included fellow heads of state and the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, that 2019 has been "a good year for the consolidation of democracy" across Africa.

"National, presidential and parliamentary elections have been held in Botswana, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Mozambique and right here in South Africa. Global investor surveys consistently highlight political stability and security as important considerations for committing capital," said Ramaphosa.

"Every election that passes peacefully and that reflects the will of the people is another step towards the attainment of the African Union’s vision of an Africa at peace with itself. It challenges the notion that Africa is unstable and a risky place to invest."

Ramaphosa said the great interest that the forum has garnered since it was inaugurated last year, was a clear indication that the international investor community is optimistic about Africa’s prospects, excited by its potential, and wanted to be part of its success.

"Over the 40 years since the term ‘emerging markets’ was first coined, the economies of Africa have evolved and matured and become increasingly diverse. Political stability in many African countries has enabled us to industrialise, and to pursue development policies that have brought millions of people out of abject poverty, resulting in rising income levels," said Ramaphosa.

"This in turn has attracted increased levels of investment: in infrastructure needed to connect people and goods to markets, in mining production, and in key sectors like agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and information technology."

He said Africa was evidently pursuing growth and development in the interests of its people, and charting its own course.

"And now we stand on the cusp of a new era of African integration. The coming into operation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will connect over 1.2 billion people and solidify a consumer market that will be worth over US$3 trillion by 2030," he said.

"It will bring into being the largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation. Working with our friends and partners in the global investor community, we have an opportunity, in the words of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, to make ourselves the architects of the future."

He said the AfCFTA would pave the way for the free flow of goods and services, enabling businesses and entrepreneurs to access new markets.

"Consumers will benefit from the removal of trade barriers, and business costs will be reduced. But by far the most significant potential of the AfCFTA will be in increasing the value of intra-African trade, which, by some estimates, is likely to rise by 15 to 25 percent by 2040," said Ramaphosa.

"In so doing, the Continental Free Trade Area will encourage greater self-reliance."

Organised by the AfDB and its partners, the forum underway in Johannesburg is a multi-stakeholder marketplace aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to bankable stage and accelerating financial closure of deals.

According to the AfDB, financing Africa’s development needs will require between US$200billion (R3 trillion) and US$1.2trln yearly, of which US$130bn to US$170bn a year is needed for infrastructure.

Last week, South Africa was able to raise R363 billion in investment commitments, and indications of a further R8 billion in planned investments that are subject to either regulatory or company board approvals, at the second South Africa Investment Conference.

- African News Agency (ANA)