President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers opening address at the second South Africa Investment Conference held from 05 to 07 November 2019 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Photo: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa has said part of the country's response to boost economic growth, including the reassurance of agencies such as Moody’s Investors Service, which last week revised its outlook of South Africa from stable to negative, lay in prioritising implementing policy reforms, creating policy certainty, consistency and predictability for investors to have confidence in the economy.

Ramaphosa said the government had prioritised growth in important sectors such as automotive, clothing and textiles, gas, chemicals and plastics, tourism, renewable energy, oceans economy, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, the digital economy and the hi-tech industries.

“We have determined that we will move forward, effect far-reaching reforms and undertake the detailed work required to turn our economy around. We have fostered greater policy coherence and are improving alignment across the different spheres and entities of government,” he said.

Speaking at the second South African Investment Conference in Johannesburg yesterday, Ramaphosa said the government had embarked on a path that is illuminated by policy consistency and regulatory certainty, fiscal responsibility, and decisive interventions to stimulate economic activity.

South Africa dropped two places from 82 to 84 position in this year’s World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, after implementing only one reform in the year to March. 

“We have set ourselves the ambition of being in the top 50 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index within the next three years,” he said.

The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa co-chair Gareth Ackerman said regulatory uncertainty and overlap was still worrying the consumer-goods sector, since the industry is the largest employer in the country with over 2 million employees.

“While I am an optimistic person – I have to admit as a businessperson in South Africa – that I am equally concerned that it seems that for every one step forward, SA is still taking two steps backwards,” Ackerman said.

“There is also evidence of contradictory policy and regulatory-level objectives across the different government departments. This is creating a culture of distrust between the government and the business sector in general, at a time when there should be a national consensus on how to move the country forward.”

Ramaphosa said the government was taking several measures to reduce public spending, eliminate wastage and direct resources to where they will have the greatest impact on long-term growth and poverty alleviation.

The conference is a key milestone in the country's bold ambition to raise R1.2 trillion from domestic and foreign investors over the next five years. Last year, at least R280 billion was pledged by companies in infrastructure and job-creation projects.