President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa must make it cheaper and easier to do business in the country in order to attract the investment necessary to build the economy at a faster pace and create jobs, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

In the latest edition of a newly-launched weekly column, Ramaphosa celebrated that the country had climbed seven places in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Competitiveness Report released last week, calling it a "noteworthy achievement within a relatively short period of time".

Ramaphosa, who has been president since his predecessor Jacob Zuma was forced to step down ahead of schedule in February 2018, faces the daunting challenge of spurring growth in an economy that expanded by less than one percent per year over the past decade, while unemployment has risen to 29 percent.

"One of our tasks is to grow our economy by reducing the cost of doing business," said the president, who is currently in London to address a Financial Times Africa summit.

"As we work to create jobs and employment opportunities, we are also working to reduce the cost of living. This explains our efforts to bring down the cost of electricity, data, public transport, health care and education."

He said his administration was using every available opportunity to reach out to investors to talk about the great business potential both in South Africa and across the African continent.

Towards its drive to be a destination of choice for foreign direct investment, South Africa would in November host the second investment conference as part of efforts to attract R1.2 trillion in new investment over five years, he said. The inaugural conference last year raised around R300 billion in committed investments.


"As we have all recognised, if we are to create jobs and reduce poverty, we need to grow our economy at a much faster pace. For that, we need much more investment, from both local and international business," Ramaphosa said.

"To attract investment we need to make it easier to do business in South Africa. In a competitive global environment, investors are looking for countries that can provide stable and sustained returns, while minimising risks and cost."

He said this was important not just for attracting foreign direct investment, but also to cultivate a new crop of home-grown companies, noting that the most effective way to reduce poverty and create economic opportunities for South Africans living in townships and rural areas was by enabling them to start up and grow their own businesses.

- African News Agency (ANA)