Picture: President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter).
JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has embarked on a charm offensive, telling Japanese investors that South Africa has invested over R1 trillion on infrastructure development to make the continental superpower investment friendly.

He said his administration wanted to remove every blockage investors could find, fast-track investment projects and reduce red tape in government.

Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural Japan- Africa Public-Private Econo-mic Forum in Sandton yesterday, Ramaphosa characterised South Africa as a thriving democracy with stable institutions.

He said the judiciary was independent and fearless. “Our commitment to the rule of law is beyond question.”

Ramaphosa also spoke about his “very ambitious” investment drive to raise $100 billion (R1.2 trillion) over the next five years in new investment into the local economy.

“To achieve that I have appointed three lions and one lioness to hunt down these investments throughout the whole world. It is through this that we will be able to boost our economy,” he said.

Turning to Africa, Ramaphosa said the continent was on the move and entering a new era of economic growth.

“In 2017, Africa’s exports to Asia as a whole were worth $64bn. Japan accounted for $8.3bn,” he said, calling on the Japanese government and business leaders to look at ­Africa with new eyes.

Ramaphosa said Africa was the second fastest-growing ­region in the world, and boasted a number of developing countries.

He said projected regional growth for 2018 stood at 4.3%, and the upward trend was driven by foreign direct investment, public investments and a higher agricultural production.

“In the near future Africa’s youth will contribute to the competitiveness of the continent. We are a youthful continent of young people hungry for progress and technology, but are also tech-savvy,” he said.

Japan, Africa and South Africa had a long relationship dating back a century, he noted.

“Over the past century we’ve witnessed Japan’s transformation of their own country and economy. I’m confident this forum will enable us to break new ground in further advancing relationships between the African continent and Japan.”