South Africa and the United Kingdom have extensive trade and economic relations fostered over a number of years. This is set to further strengthen during the upcoming UK - Africa Investment Summit in London.
Hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the gathering brings together international investors, governments and international organisations to promote awareness of investment opportunities across Africa.
The Summit will focus on renewables, infrastructure and manufacturing that drives job creation and sustainable economic growth. It aims to attract more investments and create jobs in both the UK and Africa.
It comes at an opportune time as South Africa itself is on a drive to attract more than R1, 2 trillion in investment over five years. As a nation on a path to economic recovery, every rand invested in our economy helps expand the local market and stimulates growth.
New investments also significantly contribute to our national goals of socio-economic development as we create sustainable jobs, reduce poverty and drive back inequality.
In tapping deeper into the UK market, we believe we can further grow our total trade, which has been on an upward trajectory. It increased by almost 80 per cent from R56.3 billion in 2012 to R101.2 billion in 2018. Manufactured products in addition to traditional commodity exports to the UK increased in value from R27.4 billion to R46.5 billion in 2016.
Moreover, the UK is South Africa’s second-largest contributor to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) after the United States. Since. 2003, 337 FDI projects were recorded and created over 4 972 jobs in business services, financial services, industrial machinery and alternative renewable energy.
We are confident that the Summit will continue to advance our investment profile and send a clear message to the UK investment community that South Africa is open for business. The many attributes that make us an acclaimed investment destination will be showcased.
We offer investors access to a host of new investment frontiers and markets. We are targeting growth in the core productive sectors of Manufacturing, Mining, Infrastructure, Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Agriculture and Aquaculture.
Last year South Africa laid the foundation to attract more investment into the digital and telecoms sectors by issuing the policy directive for the release of high demand spectrum. We are also developing plans for industries with high growth potential,
such as automotive, clothing and textiles, gas, chemicals and plastics, renewable energy, oceans economy, agriculture and the high-tech industries.
The country is finalising its Mining Charter which opens the sector to greater investment. South Africa's total mineral reserves remain one of the world's most valuable, with an estimated value of $2.5-trillion. Overall, the country is estimated to have the world's fifth-largest mining sector in terms of GDP value.
UK investors can also benefit from our intrinsic link with Africa which is now one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. South Africa is one of the countries that has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will allow companies invested in the country access to a market of goods and services for 1.2 billion people.
The AfCFTA aims to make doing business in the continent easier and encourages African countries to trade amongst each other. It is predicted that measures that have been put in place through AfCFTA could increase intra-continental commerce by as much as 52 percent by 2022.
Beyond just trade and investments, our cultural ties and people-to-people relations ensures that South Africa is a popular tourist destination of UK citizens. The country is regarded as one of the most diverse and enchanting places in the world.
Tourist to the country can experience a vibrant culture, breathtaking sceneries, world heritage sites and wildlife. South Africa offers exceptional value ensuring unbeatable travel experiences for every budget. There are over 70 international airlines flying to South Africa making it easier to enter the country from any corner of the world.
South Africa is looking to double its international tourist arrivals from 10, 5 million to 21 million by 2030. Stats SA projects that by 2026, the number of direct jobs created by tourism in South Africa, will reach 1 million, and over 2.26 million total jobs will be supported by the sector.
South Africa looks forward to engaging participants at the UK - Africa Investment Summit and shares with them the qualities that make the country an investment choice and a renowned tourist destination. We remain a country determined to grow economically together with the African Continent.
* Williams is an Acting Director-General at GCIS
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.